February 27, 2006- The Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs, Inc. (ANJRPC) announced that it has commenced a lawsuit against the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and one of its police officers for wrongfully arresting and imprisoning for nearly five days a 57-year old Utah man delayed at Newark Airport by a baggage error while traveling from Utah to Pennsylvania.
The lawsuit seeks more than $3 million in damages for civil rights violations and a permanent injunction forcing the Port Authority to follow Federal law on interstate transport of locked, unloaded firearms that have been secured in luggage and declared by law-abiding citizens.
The Utah man, Gregg Revell, a real estate broker and family man with no criminal record and a Utah firearms permit, was flying alone from Salt Lake City, UT to Allentown, PA to retrieve a car he bought and drive it home. He was travelling with a firearm for personal protection. As required by Federal law, the firearm was unloaded, cased, locked and inside his luggage when he declared it at check-in in Salt Lake City on March 31, 2005.
Due to an airline-caused baggage error, Mr. Revell missed his connection from Newark to Allentown and had to stay overnight in New Jersey. When he checked in at Newark Airport the next morning to complete his travels, he again declared his firearm, as required by FAA regulations. He was then arrested for possession of a firearm without a New Jersey state license, and imprisoned in Essex County jail for five days until his family arranged bail, which had been initially set unusually high at $15,000 cash (no bond).
But Mr. Revell's travels were protected by the Firearms Owner Protection Act, a Federal law passed in 1986 to protect law-abiding citizens who travel with firearms. (See 18 U.S.C. § 926A.) That law trumps state and local gun laws and protects interstate travel with firearms under certain circumstances, all of which were present in Mr. Revell's case. Several months after the arrest, all charges were withdrawn and the prosecutor's case administratively dismissed.
"The Port Authority blatantly violated Federal law when it arrested Gregg Revell," said Scott Bach, President of the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs and a member of the NRA Board of Directors. "Those charged with enforcing the law have a special responsibility to follow it themselves," Bach continued. "Mr. Revell's arrest is part of a pattern of similar misconduct by the Port Authority throughout the New York-New Jersey metropolitan areas."
"This lawsuit is intended to send a signal not only to the Port Authority but to every agency and officer responsible for policing our airports and highways: if you violate the rights of law-abiding gun owners, you will be held fully accountable." The lawsuit also names the arresting Port Authority police officer, Scott Erickson, as a defendant.
Once inside Essex County prison, Mr. Revell was subjected to numerous atrocities. He was thrown into a holding cell with 28 inmates, many of whom were admitted murderers and rapists. He endured a repulsive vomit-covered bed and toilet, was denied his blood pressure and migraine medication, innoculated against his will, given inedible food, strip-searched, and left only with his wits to survive.
"I did nothing wrong yet was arrested and subjected to the worst treatment imaginable for almost a week," said Mr. Revell, who has 8 children, 8 grandchildren and has been married for 36 years. "I brought this lawsuit together with the Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs because I want to stop this kind of abuse from ever happening again," said Revell. "No one should ever have to experience what I experienced," he said. "I paid the price, but I’m committed to making sure no one else does."
Text of the Firearms Owner Protection Act (18 U.S.C. § 926A):
Notwithstanding any other provision of any law or any rule or regulation of a State or any political subdivision thereof, any person who is not otherwise prohibited by this chapter from transporting, shipping, or receiving a firearm shall be entitled to transport a firearm for any lawful purpose from any place where he may lawfully possess and carry such firearm to any other place where he may lawfully possess and carry such firearm if, during such transportation the firearm is unloaded, and neither the firearm nor any ammunition being transported is readily accessible or is directly accessible from the passenger compartment of such transporting vehicle: Provided, That in the case of a vehicle without a compartment separate from the driver’s compartment the firearm or ammunition shall be contained in a locked container other than the glove compartment or console.