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U.S. Code of Regulations Regarding Firearms and Airplanes, Air Travel

U.S. Code Regarding Carrying of Weapons on Planes

"The Gist" from Alan Korwin
Author, Gun Laws of America series (including several states)

Web formatting by KeepAndBearArms.com

September 17, 2001

49 USC § 44903. Air transportation security

The Gist: In this section, law enforcement personnel includes anyone with an official badge (or similar sign of authority), authorized to carry firearms, and with a police-power-of-arrest that meets the Federal Aviation Administration’s standards.  (Click here to read the full text of U.S. Code, below.)

49 USC § 46303. Carrying a weapon

The Gist: A person who has a concealed dangerous weapon available in an aircraft is liable to the federal government for a $10,000 civil fine. The proper authorities are exempt. Note that when this bill (P.L. 103-272) was codified, as is often the case, the words of Congress were changed by the people doing the codification. Notes on those changes are available in this instance, and are provided here to illustrate the nature of this process of rewriting the statutes after they are enacted.  (Click here to read the full text of U.S. Code, below.)

49 USC § 46505. Carrying a weapon or explosive on an aircraft

The Gist: A special definition of a firearm is created in subsection (a) for this section only. Bringing or attempting to bring a concealed dangerous weapon on board an aircraft used in air transportation, so that the weapon would be available in flight, is illegal. Putting or attempting to put a loaded firearm on such an aircraft, in property that would not be available to passengers in flight, is illegal. Exceptions are made for the proper authorities. This section does not apply to a person transporting an unloaded firearm, in baggage that is inaccessible during flight, if the air carrier was notified of the presence of the weapon.  (Click here to read the full text of U.S. Code, below.)

49 USC § 80302. Prohibitions

The Gist: An NFA weapon in violation of NFA weapon laws (which begin at 26-5801) is contraband. It’s illegal to use an aircraft, vehicle or ship to transport, conceal, possess, buy, sell or transfer contraband.  (Click here to read the full text of U.S. Code, below.)

Also contained below:

14 CFR - CHAPTER I - PART 108
§  108.11  Carriage of weapons.

 

 

49 USC § 44903. Air transportation security

SOURCE

The Gist: In this section, law enforcement personnel includes anyone with an official badge (or similar sign of authority), authorized to carry firearms, and with a police-power-of-arrest that meets the Federal Aviation Administration’s standards.

TITLE 49--TRANSPORTATION
SUBTITLE VII--AVIATION PROGRAMS
PART A--AIR COMMERCE AND SAFETY
subpart iii--safety
CHAPTER 449--SECURITY
SUBCHAPTER I--REQUIREMENTS

Sec. 44903. Air transportation security

(a) Definition.

In this section, ``law enforcement personnel'' means individuals--

(1) authorized to carry and use firearms;
(2) vested with the degree of the police power of arrest the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration considers necessary to carry out this section; and
(3) identifiable by appropriate indicia of authority.

(b) Protection Against Violence and Piracy.

The Administrator shall prescribe regulations to protect passengers and property on an aircraft operating in air transportation or intrastate air transportation against an act of criminal violence or aircraft piracy. When prescribing a regulation under this subsection, the Administrator shall--

(1) consult with the Secretary of Transportation, the Attorney General, the heads of other departments, agencies, and instrumentalities of the United States Government, and State and local authorities;

(2) consider whether a proposed regulation is consistent with--

(A) protecting passengers; and
(B) the public interest in promoting air transportation and intrastate air transportation;

(3) to the maximum extent practicable, require a uniform procedure for searching and detaining passengers and property to ensure--

(A) their safety; and

(B) courteous and efficient treatment by an air carrier, an agent or employee of an air carrier, and Government, State, and local law enforcement personnel carrying out this section; and

(4) consider the extent to which a proposed regulation will carry out this section.

(c) Security Programs.

(1) 

The Administrator shall prescribe regulations under subsection (b) of this section that require each operator of an airport regularly serving an air carrier holding a certificate issued by the Secretary of Transportation to establish an air transportation security program that provides a law enforcement presence and capability at each of those airports that is adequate to ensure the safety of passengers. The regulations shall authorize the operator to use the services of qualified State, local, and private law enforcement personnel. When the Administrator decides, after being notified by an operator in the form the Administrator prescribes, that not enough qualified State, local, and private law enforcement personnel are available to carry out subsection (b), the Administrator may authorize the operator to use, on a reimbursable basis, personnel employed by the Administrator, or by another department, agency, or instrumentality of the Government with the consent of the head of the department, agency, or instrumentality, to supplement State, local, and private law enforcement personnel. When deciding whether additional personnel are needed, the Administrator shall consider the number of passengers boarded at the airport, the extent of anticipated risk of criminal violence or aircraft piracy at the airport or to the air carrier aircraft operations at the airport, and the availability of qualified State or local law enforcement personnel at the airport.

(2)

(A) The Administrator may approve a security program of an airport operator, or an amendment in an existing program, that incorporates a security program of an airport tenant (except an air carrier separately complying with part 108 or 129 of title 14, Code of Federal Regulations) having access to a secured area of the airport, if the program or amendment incorporates--

(i) the measures the tenant will use, within the tenant's leased areas or areas designated for the tenant's exclusive use under an agreement with the airport operator, to carry out the security requirements imposed by the Administrator on the airport operator under the access control system requirements of section 107.14 of title 14, Code of Federal Regulations, or under other requirements of part 107 of title 14; and

(ii) the methods the airport operator will use to monitor and audit the tenant's compliance with the security requirements and provides that the tenant will be required to pay monetary penalties to the airport operator if the tenant fails to carry out a security requirement under a contractual provision or requirement imposed by the airport operator.

(B) If the Administrator approves a program or amendment described in subparagraph (A) of this paragraph, the airport operator may not be found to be in violation of a requirement of this subsection or subsection (b) of this section when the airport operator demonstrates that the tenant or an employee, permittee, or invitee of the tenant is responsible for the violation and that the airport operator has complied with all measures in its security program for securing compliance with its security program by the tenant.

(d) Authorizing Individuals To Carry Firearms and Make Arrests.

With the approval of the Attorney General and the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Transportation may authorize an individual who carries out air transportation security duties--

(1) to carry firearms; and 
(2) to make arrests without warrant for an offense against the United States committed in the presence of the individual or for a felony under the laws of the United States, if the individual reasonably believes the individual to be arrested has committed or is committing a felony.

(e) Exclusive Responsibility Over Passenger Safety.

The Administrator has the exclusive responsibility to direct law enforcement activity related to the safety of passengers on an aircraft involved in an offense under section 46502 of this title from the moment all external doors of the aircraft are closed following boarding until those doors are opened to allow passengers to leave the aircraft. When requested by the Administrator, other departments, agencies, and instrumentalities of the Government shall provide assistance necessary to carry out this subsection.

(Pub. L. 103-272, Sec. 1(e), July 5, 1994, 108 Stat. 1205.)

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49 USC § 46303. Carrying a weapon

SOURCE

The Gist: A person who has a concealed dangerous weapon available in an aircraft is liable to the federal government for a $10,000 civil fine. The proper authorities are exempt. Note that when this bill (P.L. 103-272) was codified, as is often the case, the words of Congress were changed by the people doing the codification. Notes on those changes are available in this instance, and are provided here to illustrate the nature of this process of rewriting the statutes after they are enacted.

TITLE 49--TRANSPORTATION
SUBTITLE VII--AVIATION PROGRAMS
PART A--AIR COMMERCE AND SAFETY
subpart iv--enforcement and penalties
CHAPTER 463--PENALTIES
Sec. 46303. Carrying a weapon

(a) Civil Penalty.

An individual who, when on, or attempting to board, an aircraft in, or intended for operation in, air transportation 
or intrastate air transportation, has on or about the individual or the property of the individual a concealed dangerous weapon that is or would be accessible to the individual in flight is liable to the United States Government for a civil penalty of not more than $10,000 for each violation.

(b) Compromise and Setoff.

(1) The Secretary of Transportation may compromise the amount of a civil penalty imposed under subsection (a) of this section. 

(2) The Government may deduct the amount of a civil penalty imposed or compromised under this section from amounts it owes the individual liable for the penalty.

(c) Nonapplication.

This section does not apply to--

(1) a law enforcement officer of a State or political subdivision of a State, or an officer or employee of the Government, authorized to carry arms in an official capacity; or 

(2) another individual the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration by regulation authorizes to carry arms in an official capacity.

(Pub. L. 103-272, Sec. 1(e), July 5, 1994, 108 Stat. 1234.)

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49 USC § 46505. Carrying a weapon or explosive on an aircraft

SOURCE

The Gist: A special definition of a firearm is created in subsection (a) for this section only. Bringing or attempting to bring a concealed dangerous weapon on board an aircraft used in air transportation, so that the weapon would be available in flight, is illegal. Putting or attempting to put a loaded firearm on such an aircraft, in property that would not be available to passengers in flight, is illegal. Exceptions are made for the proper authorities. This section does not apply to a person transporting an unloaded firearm, in baggage that is inaccessible during flight, if the air carrier was notified of the presence of the weapon.

TITLE 49--TRANSPORTATION
SUBTITLE VII--AVIATION PROGRAMS
PART A--AIR COMMERCE AND SAFETY
subpart iv--enforcement and penalties
CHAPTER 465--SPECIAL AIRCRAFT JURISDICTION OF THE UNITED STATES
Sec. 46505. Carrying a weapon or explosive on an aircraft

(a) Definition.

In this section, "loaded firearm'' means a starter gun or a weapon designed or converted to expel a projectile through an explosive, that has a cartridge, a detonator, or powder in the chamber, magazine, cylinder, or clip.

(b) General Criminal Penalty.

An individual shall be fined under title 18, imprisoned for not more than 10 years, or both, if the individual--

(1) when on, or attempting to get on, an aircraft in, or intended for operation in, air transportation or intrastate air transportation, has on or about the individual or the property of the individual a concealed dangerous weapon that is or would be accessible to the individual in flight;

(2) has placed, attempted to place, or attempted to have placed a loaded firearm on that aircraft in property not accessible to passengers in flight; or 

(3) has on or about the individual, or has placed, attempted to place, or attempted to have placed on that aircraft, an explosive or incendiary device.

(c) Criminal Penalty Involving Disregard for Human Life.

An individual who willfully and without regard for the safety of human life, or with reckless disregard for the safety of human life, violates subsection (b) of this section, shall be fined under title 18, imprisoned for not more than 15 years, or both. 

(d) Nonapplication.

Subsection (b)(1) of this section does not apply to--

(1) a law enforcement officer of a State or political subdivision of a State, or an officer or employee of the United States Government, authorized to carry arms in an official capacity;

(2) another individual the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration by regulation authorizes to carry a dangerous weapon in air transportation or intrastate air transportation; or 

(3) an individual transporting a weapon (except a loaded firearm) in baggage not accessible to a passenger in flight if the air carrier was informed of the presence of the weapon.

(Pub. L. 103-272, Sec. 1(e), July 5, 1994, 108 Stat. 1244; Pub. L. 104-132, title VII, Sec. 705(b), Apr. 24, 1996, 110 Stat. 1295.)

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49 USC § 80302. Prohibitions

SOURCE

The Gist: An NFA weapon in violation of NFA weapon laws (which begin at 26-5801) is contraband. It’s illegal to use an aircraft, vehicle or ship to transport, conceal, possess, buy, sell or transfer contraband.

TITLE 49--TRANSPORTATION
SUBTITLE X--MISCELLANEOUS
CHAPTER 803--CONTRABAND
Sec. 80302. Prohibitions

(a) Definition.

In this section, ``contraband'' means--

(1) a narcotic drug (as defined in section 102 of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 (21 U.S.C. 802)), including marihuana (as defined in section 102 of that Act (21 U.S.C. 802)), that--

(A) is possessed with intent to sell or offer for sale in violation of the laws and regulations of the United States;

(B) is acquired, possessed, sold, transferred, or offered for sale in violation of those laws;

(C) is acquired by theft, robbery, or burglary and transported--

(i) in the District of Columbia or a territory or possession of the United States; or
(ii) from a place in a State, the District of Columbia, or a territory or possession of the United States, to a place in another State, the District of Columbia, or a territory or possession; or

(D) does not bear tax-paid internal revenue stamps required by those laws or regulations;

(2) a firearm involved in a violation of chapter 53 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (26 U.S.C. 5801 et seq.);

(3) a forged, altered, or counterfeit--

(A) coin or an obligation or other security of the United States Government (as defined in section 8 of title 18); or
(B) coin, obligation, or other security of the government of a foreign country;

(4) material or equipment used, or intended to be used, in making a coin, obligation, or other security referred to in clause (3) of this subsection;

(5) a cigarette involved in a violation of chapter 114 of title 18 or a regulation prescribed under chapter 114; or

(6)

(A) a counterfeit label for a phonorecord, copy of a computer program or computer program documentation or packaging, or copy of a motion picture or other audiovisual work (as defined in section 2318 of title 18);

(B) a phonorecord or copy in violation of section 2319 of title 18;
(C) a fixation of a sound recording or music video of a live musical performance in violation of section 2319A of title 18; or
(D) any good bearing a counterfeit mark (as defined in section 2320 of title 18).

(b) Prohibitions.

A person may not--

(1) transport contraband in an aircraft, vehicle, or vessel;
(2) conceal or possess contraband on an aircraft, vehicle, or vessel; or
(3) use an aircraft, vehicle, or vessel to facilitate the transportation, concealment, receipt, possession, purchase, sale, exchange, or giving away of contraband.

(Pub. L. 103-272, Sec. 1(e), July 5, 1994, 108 Stat. 1353; Pub. L. 104-153, Sec. 13, July 2, 1996, 110 Stat. 1389.)

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14 CFR - CHAPTER I - PART 108  §  108.11  Carriage of weapons.

SOURCE

(a) No certificate holder required to conduct screening under a security program may permit any person to have, nor may any person have, on or about his or her person or property, a deadly or dangerous weapon, either concealed or unconcealed, accessible to him or her while aboard an airplane for which screening is required unless:

(1) The person having the weapon is --

(i) An official or employee of the United States, or a State or political subdivision of a State, or of a municipality who is authorized by his or her agency to have the weapon; or

(ii) Authorized to have the weapon by the certificate holder and the Administrator and has successfully completed a course of training in the use of firearms acceptable to the Administrator.

(2) The person having the weapon needs to have the weapon accessible in connection with the performance of his or her duty from the time he or she would otherwise check it in accordance with paragraph (d) of this section until the time it would be returned after deplaning.

(3) The certificate holder is notified --

(i) Of the flight on which the armed person intends to have the weapon accessible to him or her at least 1 hour, or in an emergency as soon as practicable, before departure; and

(ii) When the armed person is other than an employee or official of the United States, that there is a need for the weapon to be accessible to the armed person in connection with the performance of that person's duty from the time he or she would otherwise check it in accordance with paragraph (d) of this section until the time it would be returned to him or her after deplaning.

(4) The armed person identifies himself or herself to the certificate holder by presenting credentials that include his or her clear, full-face picture, his or her signature, and the signature of the authorizing official of his or her service or the official seal of his or her service. A badge, shield, or similar may not be used as the sole means of identification.

(5) The certificate holder --

(i) Ensures that the armed person is familiar with its procedures for carrying a deadly or dangerous weapon aboard its airplane before the time the person boards the airplane;

(ii) Ensures that the identity of the armed person is known to each law enforcement officer and each employee of the certificate holder responsible for security during the boarding of the airplane; and

(iii) Notifies the pilot in command, other appropriate crewmembers, and any other person authorized to have a weapon accessible to him or her aboard the airplane of the location of each authorized armed person aboard the airplane.

(b) No person may, while on board an airplane operated by a certificate holder for which screening is not conducted, carry on or about that person a deadly or dangerous weapon, either concealed or unconcealed. This paragraph does not apply to --

(1) Officials or employees of a municipality or a State, or of the United States, who are authorized to carry arms; or

(2) Crewmembers and other persons authorized by the certificate holder to carry arms.

(c) No certificate holder may knowingly permit any person to transport, nor may any person transport or tender for transport, any explosive, incendiary or a loaded firearm in checked baggage aboard an airplane. For the purpose of this section, a loaded firearm means a firearm which has a live round of ammunition, cartridge, detonator, or powder in the chamber or in a clip, magazine, or cylinder inserted in it.

(d) No certificate holder may knowingly permit any person to transport, nor may any person transport or tender for transport, any unloaded firearm in checked baggage aboard an airplane unless --

(1) The passenger declares to the certificate holder, either orally or in writing before checking the baggage, that any firearm carried in the baggage is unloaded;

(2) The firearm is carried in a container the certificate holder considers appropriate for air transportation;

(3) When the firearm is other than a shotgun, rifle, or other firearm normally fired from the shoulder position, the baggage in which it is carried is locked, and only the passenger checking the baggage retains the key or combination; and

(4) The baggage containing the firearm is carried in an area, other than the flightcrew compartment, that is inaccessible to passengers.

(e) No certificate holder may serve any alcoholic beverage to a person having a deadly or dangerous weapon accessible to him or her nor may such person drink any alcoholic beverage while aboard an airplane operated by the certificate holder.

(f) Paragraphs (a), (b), and (d) of this section do not apply to the carriage of firearms aboard air carrier flights conducted for the military forces of the Government of the United States when the total cabin load of the airplane is under exclusive use by those military forces if the following conditions are met:

(1) No firearm is loaded and all bolts to such firearms are locked in the open position; and

(2) The certificate holder is notified by the unit commander or officer in charge of the flight before boarding that weapons will be carried aboard the aircraft.

[Doc. No. 108, 46 FR 3786, Jan. 15, 1981, as amended by Amdt. 108-4, 51 FR 1352, Jan. 10, 1986]

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