Houston Rockets star Dwight Howard, a known gun enthusiast with a collection of over 50 firearms, including bazookas, recently brought a loaded Glock 26 9mm through airport security in his carry-on bag. The incident allegedly happened on Friday, August 28th,2015.
Fortunately for Howard, he avoided any charges because Texas passed a law that allows you to bring a gun into airport security if you immediately leave the area. Howard gave the gun to a friend. The law didn’t become official until September 1st, but the Houston D.A. decided to not make any charges because the law was so close to becoming official.
There was no word on whether Howard had a concealed carry license.
But what if Howard, or you, did have one? How does law work then?
Concealed Carry Law in Texas Airports Has Recently Changed: What You Need to Know
One of the reasons this law came about is because the Transportation Security Administration confiscated 350 guns at Texas airports in 2014. But a new state law that went into effect on Tuesday, September 1st, 2014, allows someone with a valid concealed handgun license to avoid arrest and Third-degree Felony charges, if they forget their firearm in their carry-on luggage, and if they immediately leave the secure zone of an airport after they’re told about the weapon.
So if you forget you have your concealed firearm with you, and you have a license for it, you’ll avoid the most serious consequences.
However, you could still get nailed with a hefty fine. TSA fines for carrying an unloaded gun into a secure area of an airport can be up to $3,000 for unloaded guns and up to $7,500 for loaded guns.
You May Carry Your Concealed Firearm in Non-Secured Areas of the Airport
When you’re in the non-secured areas of an airport, you’re considered to be in the “municipal” section of the airport. In that case, state law applies. And Texas state law allows you to carry your concealed firearm with a legal license.
But, you have to watch out for airport policy too.
You can have a concealed firearm at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport in the non-secured areas with a valid license. But, Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport has a strict no-guns policy, which means you could face fines or jail time if you’re caught with a firearm anywhere in the airport.
That Being Said…Don’t Take Your Gun to the Airport
Yes, it’s easy to forget you have your firearm with you when you carry it all the time. But, if security or police become aware you’re carrying, even if you do so legally, they may confront or harass you.
Airport security doesn’t want you carrying a firearm to stop a crazed shooter. With more people shooting, it creates chaos for them and difficulty identifying who the bad guy is.
You also risk thousands of dollars in fines if you forget you have yours and walk through TSA security.
When you go to the airport, leave your firearm out in the car (it must not be in plain view) or at home hidden in a gun safe. And if you have to take it with you on a trip, put it in your checked luggage, as the TSA allows that.