Times are fun, indeed.
We’ve heard of cases in JFK where people, simply switching planes in the airport, have been arrested because they had a handgun in their checked baggage.
This week is the first time I’ll be having a layover in New Jersey, however, and they aren’t a very gun friendly place either.
So, on the phone I got and first spoke with the Port Authority Police at the airport. Here’s a paraphrase of how the conversation went;
Call to Port Authority Police
Me: I am traveling from FL to NY, and have a layover in NJ. I will have a handgun in my checked bag, and will never have contact with it while in NJ. I do not have a NJ concealed carry permit. Is this breaking any laws in your state?
Port Authority Police: You mean you’re traveling to NY through NJ? You’ll need a NJ concealed carry permit to have the handgun.
Me: Yes, but I am flying in to Newark and then from there am flying to NY. So yes, I’ll be traveling in NJ, but my handgun will remain with the airline until I arrive in NY.
Port Authority Police: Ah, ok. So you’re traveling with a handgun in your checked baggage. And you do not have a NJ pistol permit. No, you cannot bring a handgun into the state without a permit from the state. That’s illegal.
Me: Even though I’m never taking possession of it while it’s in NJ? It’s literally being transferred from one plane to the other by the airline.
Port Authority Police: You need a permit in the State of New Jersey to have a handgun here.
Me: So I can’t travel with my handgun to NY, because I have an hour layover in NJ?
Port Authority Police: I believe that’s correct, yes.
Me: Thank you for your time.
Next, I decided to call the State Police to see what they had to say. The conversation went much different.
Call To New Jersey State Police
Me: I just spoke with the Port Authority Police and believe that they gave me incorrect information. I am traveling from FL to NY, and have a layover in NJ. I will have a handgun in my checked bag, and will never have contact with it while in NJ. I do not have a NJ concealed carry permit. Is this breaking any laws in your state?
State Police: What did they tell you?
Me: That because I did not have a NJ pistol permit, I could not bring the handgun into the state.
State Police: But you’re just here for a layover, correct? You’ll just be here for a short time and never have your checked bag with you until you arrive in NY, correct?
State Police: That’s completely fine. The airline has possession of the handgun. You won’t even see your bag.
Me: That’s exactly what I thought, but I wanted to make sure because we hear about the stories from NYC where people traveling through JFK are sometimes arrested for this exact thing.
State Police: Well that’s NYC, and those people are taking them to court over it and winning. You won’t run into that problem here. It’s not an issue. Why the Port Authority didn’t know that is beyond me. Those guys make 3x as much as we do and can’t answer this simple question.
Me: Well I’m glad that you were able to clear this up for me. Thank you for your time and knowledge!
We talked a little more, and the State Police Officer was more surprised that I have a non-resident New York State permit. I really floored him with that one.
The reason I called was to see how they handled such a thing. Maybe the next thing I should do is call someone over at JFK in NYC to see what answer they come up with. It’d be an interesting conversation, probably.
I hope that people aren’t getting fed bad information on a regular basis, and then being deterred from traveling with their firearm because they fear that they might be arrested or run into problems with it.
Stay tuned for an upcoming article after my return trip, were I’m sure that an officer in NY will be ready to cuff me when checking my firearm. From experience, when declaring the handgun at the counter in NY and you hand them a FL drivers license, they’re ready to throw you in jail. It’s always a little comical when they call my NY pistol permit license number in to find that it’s valid.
It’s… almost like… they are eager to make these arrests.