TSA Lightens Up on Airline Travelers with Guns?

By Peek & Toland on April 18, 2019

According to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), U.S. airplane travelers seem to be unaware that it is illegal to carry firearms through carry-on baggage security checkpoints. As a result, the TSA located 4,239 in airline travelers’ carry-on bags last year, which is a seven percent increase over the numbers found in 2017 and the largest number in agency history. This averages out to TSA agents discovering about 12 firearms per day.

TSA’s discovery of firearms occurred at 249 of the 440 airports nationwide where TSA agents screen passengers. Of the firearms that TSA found in carry-on luggage, 86% were loaded with ammunition, and 34% had a round of ammunition in their chambers. TSA found the largest number of firearms in carry-on baggage at the Atlanta airport (298 firearms), followed by Dallas/Fort Worth (219), Phoenix (129), Denver (126), and Orlando (123). As far as the total number of firearms found in airports in any state, Texas leads the nation, with over 300 firearm found in passengers’ carry-on luggage in two North Texas airports last year.

TSA Lightens Up on Air Travelers with Guns?

Historically, when TSA caught airline passengers attempting to take a firearm through a carry-on baggage security checkpoint, the passengers were subject to immediate arrest. Firearm possession laws, however, differ by jurisdiction, although TSA can impose civil fines of up to $13,333 for each violation, and higher fines for repeated violations. It is up to local law enforcement authorities to decide whether to seize the firearms from the passengers.

Anecdotal evidence from around the country has suggested that TSA and/or local law enforcement authorities are increasingly allowing passengers caught with firearms to return them to their vehicles, rather than being arrested or fined. However, there is no hard evidence of any such change in prior policy and procedures. When you are charged with any type of criminal offense in the state of Texas, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent your interests from the very beginning of your case. Taking steps to get you released from jail and fight for your rights at the outset of your case is typically easier than waiting until your case has progressed. Contact Peek & Toland at (512) 474-4445 today and set up an appointment to speak with our legal team.

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Texans are Falling Foul of Open Carry Law Confusion

By Peek & Toland on August 5, 2016

The open carry of guns has been allowed in Texas since the beginning of the year, but the new law threatens confusion that could end up in arrests.

The enactment of the law meant that for the first time in more than 100 years, Texans were able to walk the streets or travel the state wearing their handguns holstered.

Open carry laws may cause confusion and criminalize people with guns

Although the law was controversial, it has not meant radical change for many Texans. However, an element of confusion about where it applies to threatens trouble with the law for some people who carry a gun. An article in McClatchy revealed more than 60 complaints have been filed with the attorney general’s office against venues that gun supporters say have unlawfully prevented them carrying their firearms.

In most cases, the office has decided signs that prevent open or concealed carry of firearms violate state law.

The article quoted Terry Holcomb, executive director of Texas Carry, who has been working with the attorney general on the issue.

He alluded to a certain degree of uncertainty that could land Texans with a criminal record. He said:

“Nobody wants to get arrested. We believe we can carry in certain places lawfully … but it’s a third-degree felony … everybody is unsure.”

Open Carry Laws Blurred Distinctions During Tragic March

A problem with the Open Carry law was graphically illustrated in July when a sniper killed five police officers in Dallas during a Black Lives Matter march. Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said the Open Carry law had blurred the lines between suspects and marchers for the police and meant it was more difficult to identify the sniper, reported the New York TimesPolice gave media outlets a photograph of a suspect who turned out to be a legitimate marcher with a firearm at one point in the night.

Licensed Texans have been able to carry guns in government facilities, with the exceptions of court rooms and schools, for some time. There were no penalties for wrongly posted signs that banned guns until last year.

When laws are ambiguous, there’s always the danger of police incorrectly enforcing them.

The lack of a clear understanding about how to interpret the open carry law that increases the rights for almost a million active handgun license holders, could lead to wrongful arrests.

There have already been some instances of people being arrested for openly carrying guns. The site Open Carry Texas, points out citizens who are carrying firearms are only required to provide their identification and permit if they questioned by police.

Generally, you can carry a firearm in Texas as long as you are licensed to have a firearm in the state or another one with reciprocity. You cannot carry a firearm if you have been convicted of certain crimes and if you are under 18 you cannot carry a gun unless a parent is present.

See this information from our Austin gun offenses attorneys about firearms crimes in Texas.

The state of Texas enjoys plenty of freedom under the Second Amendment but there are stiff penalties for gun crimes if you are charged and some uncertainty about the interpretation of the open carry law. If you have been charged with a gun crime, call us now at (512) 474-4445.

Posted in Criminal Defense, Uncategorized

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More Crimes Are Being Committed with Imitation Weapons in Texas

By Peek & Toland on July 28, 2016

An increasing number of offenses are being committed with imitation weapons in Texas, according to the authorities. The trend appears to be fueled by a mistaken belief that using a replica gun for a crime will result in a lighter sentence.

The weapons in question include BB guns and other imitation firearms. A recent Associated Press story suggested the replicas are used because they are cheaper and easier for offenders to obtain. There’s also the erroneous belief that offenders will face lower sentences if they are caught using a fake gun than if they are using a real gun.

More offenses are being committed using imitation weapons

Offenses using imitation weapons are on the rise in Texas

In Texas, when a victim of a crime believes a weapon pointed at them is real, it’s sufficient grounds to warrant a first-degree felony charge and a maximum sentence of life in prison. Only New Jersey has a similar offense, although the punishment is less harsh there, AP reported. Many other states draw a distinction between a real and an imitation firearm being used in a crime.

Parts of Texas to see a spike in the use of imitation weapons include Waco where a BB gun was recently used in a convenience store robbery.

Johnny Price, owner of Big Iron Handgun License Training, told the TV station NewsWest 9, the restrictions on buying BB and airsoft guns in Texas are minimal.

Arlington has recorded about half a dozen cases over the last few months in which imitation guns have been used for crimes.

A large amount of the cases our Texas criminal defense lawyers see involve brandishing, possessing or using a firearm. If a victim thinks an imitation firearm is real, you are likely to find yourself facing a harsh sentence.

While using fake weapons may not result in lighter sentences in Texas, there’s also a danger that those using them could be shot dead by the police.

Using Imitation Weapons Can Lead to Fatal Police Shootings

Federal regulators require bright markings on all replica guns to make it clear they are not real ones. Tragedies still occur.

Last year a drunk man who pulled out a life-like looking replica run outside a restaurant in Palestine, Texas, was shot dead by police, the Daily Mail reported.

Earlier this year, officials in Cleveland, Ohio, reached a $6 million wrongful death settlement with the family of 12-year-old Tamir Rice who was killed by a police officer while playing with a pellet gun. It was missing the orange tip as is required by federal law.

If you have been charged with an offense involving a firearm whether it was real or imitation, you could be facing the prospect of a first-degree felony charge and life in prison. You need to act fast and should contact Peek & Toland today for a free consultation.

Posted in Criminal Defense

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