You have a license to own a gun. You're flying into New York City, so you check the TSA (Transportation Safety Administration) guidelines. You unload your gun and pack it, following these guidelines. You double-check your state license to make sure it's valid. Everything looks fine, so you fly to the city. No problem. A few days later, you come back and try to fly out.
And you're promptly arrested.
Sound like it wouldn't happen? In 2012, a total of 42 people were arrested at airports in New York. According to some experts, they did exactly what was described above, trying as hard as they could to be legal. They didn't think they were breaking the law and they certainly didn't mean to. They weren't planning on committing any crimes. They just wanted to fly into and out of the city.
The problem is that the laws and regulations in the city are different than they are elsewhere. In other states, all you need is a valid license to have a gun. In NYC, firearms experts point out that you typically also need a city license on top of your state one. Either that, or you have to get a special permit to validate your state license while you're within the city limits, which you can get from the city police commissioner.
A lot of these people simply did not know that they were in violation of the law, according to the New York Times. They didn't understand exactly what the strict regulations meant. They didn't know out-of-state licenses were not recognized or that locking a gun up wasn't enough to fly. This could be especially problematic for out-of-state visitors because even the gun laws in New York State are considered strict compared to some other states, so there could be a lot of confusion.
Confusion over varying regulations across the country
What's perhaps most frustrating for those who are arrested is that many of them did their research, bought their firearms legally, packed them up legally, talked to the TSA in advance, and put time and effort into adhering to the laws and regulations. It'd be different if they made no effort, but the confusion over the varying regulations from one part of New York to the next can mean even someone who made an honest effort not to break the laws could end up in police custody.
If this happens to you, you need to know all of your legal options right away. New York City takes gun crimes very seriously since it has such high crime rates. Saying that you tried isn't enough to get the authorities to back off, and some convictions bring about mandatory jail terms. You must know your rights and what legal steps you'll need to take if charges have been filed.