Consequences of inadvertently possessing a weapon at an airport checkpoint
With the holidays upon us, it is important that all gun owners or persons who live with gun owners do not inadvertently try to board an airplane with a weapon. Under Illinois law, 720 ILCS 5/29D-35.1, it “is unlawful for any person to board or attempt to board any commercial aircraft, knowingly having in his or her person any firearm….” The law does not apply to persons authorized by the federal government or any state government, but those person must notify the commander of the aircraft and provide proper authorization.
The law further provides that persons by purchasing a ticket to board such aircraft consent to a search of his person or personal belongings by the company selling the ticket. A person may refuse to be searched, but if so, he may be denied the right to board the aircraft.
Attempting to go through airport security and inadvertently possessing a gun in carry-on luggage may have devastating consequences. A violation of this law is a Class 4 felony in Illinois. Although a person may convicted of this offense may be eligible for probation, the offense also carries a possible sentence of 1 to 3 years in the Illinois penitentiary. Of course, there are additional collateral effects of being convicted of a felony in general and this felony in particular. These may include possible employment and immigration consequences.
It is better to be overly cautious. A person who goes through a checkpoint with a weapon will become a defendant in the Illinois criminal justice system. That person will be arrested and will not travel to his destination. Bail will be set and there will be numerous court appearances. A possible conviction will entail a sentence an additional consequences. It is far better to leave the weapon at home.
Lori G. Levin
Attorney at Law
180 N. LaSalle, Suite 3700
Chicago, IL 60601