Gun-toting passenger avoids conviction

U.S. v. Holtzhauer (S.D. Ohio Nov. 21, 2006).  One danger in owning “57 firearms” is that the owner might forget that one of his many handguns is lurking in the briefcase he is carrying through airport security.  Despite making what appeared to be a honest mistake, the well-armed but absent-minded passenger was charged with violating 49 U.S.C. sec. 46314(a).  That statute prohibits passengers from “knowingly and willfully” entering “an airport area that serves an air carrier” carrying a firearm.

The case was tried before the judge, who obviously was convinced that the passenger, who had a law enforcement background, was a respectable citizen who had simply forgotten that the gun was in the briefcase.  The judge shaved the onion finely, holding that the passenger was not guilty because had acted “willfully” but not “knowingly.”

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