It is illegal to carry a gun into an airport in St. Petersburg or to bring it in your carry-on bag on a flight. Breaking these laws is a second-degree misdemeanor, resulting in jail time and strong TSA fines. These laws are nationally applied.
There has been some confusion over where you can take a gun in Florida, ever since it became the 26th state to legalize concealed carry in 2023. 144 guns were found in Tampa airport’s TSA checks last year.
If you’ve been arrested for gun possession in a St. Petersburg airport, please contact our St. Petersburg criminal defense lawyers for a swift and aggressive defense that can help you avoid jail time.
Why You Can’t Bring a Gun Into a St. Petersburg Airport:
- It is illegal to carry a weapon without a permit in off-limits areas – including airports (Florida Statute 790.06(12)(a))
- That means you cannot carry a gun unless you have a permit (such as you’re working for airport security).
- You may travel with a gun in a secure container in your check-in bag only (read below to learn more).
- The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) strictly enforces these laws. As the federal agency responsible for airport security, you can expect zero tolerance and a swift reaction if you’re found to have a firearm on you in an airport.
When concealed carry was legalized in 2023, Tampa Police Chief Charlie Vazquez stated,
“If you come to the airport and you get caught at TSA through screen checkpoints, you’ll more than likely be arrested. It’s going to ruin your trip wherever you were going and then you’ll have to deal with that in court.”
TSA Federal Security Director Kirk Skinner explained,
“It’s highly recommended when you come to the airport before you even start to travel, pack in an empty bag – make sure it’s totally empty and start packing then. You’d be surprised how many times we hear, ‘I didn’t know it was in there, this was the same bag I went to the firing range with last week,’ but that’s not going to be an excuse.”
- Don’t believe it, just check out this video of a Florida man forgetting he left his firearm in his bag while going through TSA checks.
- A passenger was arrested for putting a firearm in a trashcan at Tampa Airport.
- An 85-year-old woman was arrested for bringing a firearm to Sarasota Airport in her carry-on bag.
How Can You Legally Fly with Firearms to or from St. Petersburg?
It is possible to travel with a firearm in the U.S., but you must follow the strict rules provided by the TSA.
- You may transport unloaded firearms in a locked hard-sided container as checked baggage only.
- NOT in your carry-on luggage, or on your person.
- Declare the firearm and/or ammunition to the airline when checking your bag at the ticket counter.
- The container must completely secure the firearm from being accessed – even when the bag is moving.
- Locked cases that can be easily opened are not permitted.
- We urge you to check the TSA and airline guidelines in advance for any updated information.
- You can contact TSA’s customer service if you have any questions regarding weapons on flights.
- If you are flying internationally, you’ll need to see what rules apply to your destination country.
What Is The Penalty for Gun Possession in a St. Petersburg Airport?
Gun possession in an airport in St. Petersburg is a crime. It is a second-degree misdemeanor with the following penalties:
- 60 days in jail
- Fines of up to $500
- Probation of up to 6 months
- A criminal record, affecting your ability to get employment, insurance, housing and education.
TSA itself will also fine passengers who bring a gun to a TSA checkpoint with a civil penalty of:
- Up to $15,000
- Removal from the TSA PreCheck® eligibility for at least five years
Second-time offenders can expect far more severe punishments.
What To Do If You’ve Been Arrested for Carrying a Gun in an Airport in St. Petersburg?
The vast majority of cases for gun possession in St. Petersburg airports are mistakes. But law enforcement will arrest you anyway and without a strong defense, you can expect jail time and fines.
The state must prove that you knew you were in actual or constructive possession of the firearm. Our St. Petersburg criminal defense lawyers will fight to prove you made a mistake or simply forgot.
In many cases, there is an explanation to the mistake. Such as someone may have helped pack your bag and put it in there, or you had left the gun in the bag for a long time. Whatever the reason for your mistake, don’t leave this to chance – nobody wants to spend time in jail.
Feel free to contact our St. Petersburg criminal defense attorneys today for a free consultation.
Example of Our Airport Gun Possession Case Success:
Firearm in a Backpack
Our client placed his backpack in the TSA x-ray machine at Tampa International Airport and forgot that his firearm was still inside. He was arrested and charged.
We spoke with the Assistant State Attorney before charges were formally filed, presenting mitigating evidence. The charges were swiftly dropped and the client went home without paying any fines or facing any criminal record or court dates.
Can I Bring a Knife on a Flight?
- The law for carrying a knife in an airport is very similar to a gun.
- You are not allowed to fly with a knife in your carry-on bags per TSA.
- You can take one in your checked bags.
- Exceptions are given to blunt knives with rounded blades such as butter knives or plastic cutlery.
Facts About Illegal Weapons in St. Petersburg Airports
- Tampa International Airport is in the top 10 states for most confiscated firearms by TSA agents in 2023.
- At Tampa International Airport alone, 144 guns were found.
- 93% of the total firearms confiscated nationally were loaded.
- TSA gets so many knives, they measure them by weight rather than individual knife count.
- TSA estimates they get between 2 and 3 hundred tonnes of knives each year.
Gun Possession Defense Lawyer in St. Petersburg, FL
If you’ve been arrested for taking a gun into an airport in St. Petersburg, FL, please contact our criminal defense lawyers for a swift and aggressive response.
Our experienced team regularly helps people charged with gun possession mistakes where they didn’t violate the law or that they had a gun in their carry-on bag, to gain a future free from the consequences of prison and a criminal record.
Our St. Petersburg criminal defense attorneys at Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A., are part of one of Tampa Bay’s most prestigious law firms. We have the reputation and connections to make things happen.
Contact us today for a free consultation to get started or CALL (727) 381-2300