by Robert L. Viden
In May of 2003, Mr. & Mrs. Craig Dear and my wife and I arrived at Kennedy Airport in New York City. Four suitcases, two gun cases and six duffle bags of shoes for Operation Footsteps all heading for Africa. Craig and I are handgun hunters.
As we entered the airport, New York City Port Authority Police asked us to open our gun cases. We did. When they saw the handguns, they told us that handguns could not be taken through New York City. And that THEY were going to take them. We argued. Craig and I tried to explain the Firearms Owners Protection Act that was passed by Congress in 1986. They told us THIS was New York and if we wanted to argue, we could go downtown WITH our handguns. We asked for a supervisor. We showed them our New Jersey Firearms ID cards. I showed them my FFL. After about an hour and six police officers later, they decide we could continue on with our firearms. This took place late on a Sunday afternoon.
When I arrived home, I called members of Safari Club International to find out if others had experienced similar problems and found out many of them did. I also talked to two travel agents who specialized in hunting trips abroad. They both told me that they avoid New York City and book through Atlanta whenever possible.
In talking to fellow firearm owners and hunters, I found that problems have existed not only in New York City, but in Albany and Logan Airport in Boston. I contacted the NRA. Chris Conti, and attorney with the NRA, had also heard of some problems. Most of these have occurred since 9-11, because of increased local police presence at airports.
Congressman Volkmer told me his bill, passed in 1986, was designed to cover all legal transportation of firearms within the United States.
Congressman Don Young of Alaska wrote to the TSA on June 18, 2003, describing some of our problems. The State Department's reply to Congressman Young was received February 18, 2005. The letter has been copied and made in to a PDF. Click here to download it.
I would like to thank the National Rifle Association and Congressman Young for their help in this matter. If you are planning a trip involving firearms, you may want to take a copy of this letter with you.
Robert L. Viden
Regional Vice President, ANJRPC