New citation system brings tougher penalties in Augusta, Savannah, Brunswick
Air travelers planning to fly from Augusta, Savannah or Brunswick could receive an unwelcome reminder if they attempt to illegally carry a firearm on board.
As announced Thursday, Dec. 12, at Augusta Regional Airport, a new citation system from the FBI eliminates the free pass some travelers received when attempting to bring a firearm into the secured area of an airport, said Bobby L. Christine, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. The program applies to each commercial airport in the Southern District, including the Augusta Regional Airport, Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport, and the Brunswick Golden Isles Airport.
Previously, airport patrons with concealed carry permits who brought a firearm into an airport’s secured area have been allowed to exit the airport and return without the weapon. Now, after police serving the airport file a report of the incident, those patrons also will receive a citation from the FBI charging them with a federal misdemeanor and compelling them to appear in court, Christine said. The citation carries a penalty of $300 plus court fees.
The policy doesn’t change for patrons without permits who bring a firearm into the airport’s secured area; those individuals will be arrested and charged by local police with carrying a concealed weapon. In all of those cases, the Transportation Security Administration also assesses substantial civil penalties.
“Legal possession of firearms in accordance with the law will be defended by the U.S. Attorney’s Office,” Christine said. “We hope the announcement of this tougher policy will remind honest travelers during the busy holiday season, and beyond, that federal law prohibits travelers from bringing a firearm into any airport’s secured area.”
“The FBI investigates crimes that occur aboard aircraft and that is why we take this matter very seriously,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “The task is simple: Before traveling, check your bags before leaving home so you can arrive safely and on time for your holiday plans.”
Marshal Ramone Lamkin, whose office is responsible for policing the Augusta airport, stated, “We want everyone to have a safe and enjoyable holiday season. I encourage all gun owners who intend to travel through our airport to vigorously inspect their bags prior to arrival, as many gun owners forget they are carrying firearms in their personal bags. This can lead to serious, but avoidable, legal consequences.”
Glynn County Police Chief John Powell, whose agency provides law enforcement at the Brunswick/Golden Isles Airport, said, “We appreciate the U.S. Attorney’s proactive approach to working with federal, state and local agencies to protect the rights of legal gun owners while ensuring the safety of air travelers.”