HB 2774

Relevant bills filed and their status

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srothstein
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HB 2774

#1

Post by srothstein » Tue Mar 20, 2007 10:40 pm

Charles,

I just read the text of the airport bill. Thanks for posting this since I had not heard of it before.

The way the bill is worded, it is a very bad bill though it was probably done with good intentions. The bill looks like it was intended to correct a glaring loophole in the current law on the secured area of an airport. The loophole is that the current law only applies to the terminal building. This means a person, whether visitor or employee, can enter the federally secured area of an airport by not using the terminal buildings. If they go through one of the outlying buildings, they have not broken a Texas law. This provides for the hole in security that would allow a person to smuggle weapons onto an airplane through the catering truck (as one example).

The problem is that the way the new bill is worded, it includes all of the area in the airport and many airports that do not have secured areas. As one example, the Lockhart Municipal Airport is not presently covered and would be under the new law. This is a general aviation airport only and a Cessna Caravan is about the largest airplane that could fly there.

Given the possible concerns of the bill's sponsors, and the fact that I don't think they would accept just knowing it is federal law already, do you think we could win this by just rewording the current definition of secured area? How about a compromise to amend this bill to just change the wording of the current secure area? We could take out the reference to the terminal building and just say that "secured area" means the area defined as secured by the federal government in FAA rules. Obviously, one of you lawyers would have to work out the exact wording, but you can get the idea. If we do that, I don't think we could argue to much against that change.

We also need to look at the changes in the defense provided, but I am still trying to figure out what the intent was. In the text posted on the TLO web site, they changed which offense has a defense (a4 to a5 or vice versa).

And I have no argument with reducing the offense from a felony to misdemeanor, if I read that right.
Steve Rothstein

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Charles L. Cotton
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#2

Post by Charles L. Cotton » Wed Mar 21, 2007 12:25 am

I honestly don't think this bill can be fixed. I'm a pilot and this is terrible for general aviation. If AOPA doesn't jump on this I'm going to be very disappointed.

I'm prettty sure this bill is DOA, but we have to be careful.

Chas.


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#3

Post by AV8R » Wed Mar 21, 2007 1:10 am

Thanks for the notice. As another pilot who always flies armed, I'll make the appropriate calls and hope this one dies quickly. A "no guns" policy for GA airports would cost them a lot of business during hunting season, and make life somewhat less legal for some of us.


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srothstein
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#4

Post by srothstein » Wed Mar 21, 2007 11:32 pm

Well, if it cannot be fixed, then I will start helping get the word out to kill it. I am not a pilot (yet) but the first thing that jumped out to me was all the general aviation airports it would affect. It will really be bad for those.

But on that note, how does the FAA handle the problem? I was at Bergstrom recently when Cirrus had a demo there on the general aviation side. I left my pistol outside in my bike to be safe, but I noticed there are no checks at all when i entered through the FBO. Isn't that area still considered part of the secure areea under federal law? Or do they exempt the GA side of commercial/mixed airports like that?
Steve Rothstein


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#5

Post by AV8R » Thu Mar 22, 2007 12:18 am

The "secured area" seems to be that area in a terminal building which is accessed through a TSA-manned security checkpoint. That theoretically ensures that passengers boarding commercial airlines are free of weapons. Support employees who have access to the aircraft and ramp area are identified by their security badges, which are issued by airport operations after the employee clears a background check. They, then, are theoretically not terrorists and should not be involved in weapon smuggling.

GA aircraft owners who hanger their aircraft within the fenced boundaries of the airport are required to have security badges issued by airport operations as well, after a background clearance, and they are assumed not to be terrorists. The badges must be worn when on the ramp. Access to those areas is generally through gates which require a keyed code to open. The codes are changed often and given out only to badge holders. Airports are usually owned by the city, so firearms are not illegal on airport property outside that portion of the terminal area under federal control.

At "international" airports, FBOs are generally responsible for controlling access through their property. They aren't sensitive about legit looking folks with gun cases carrying them out to their airplanes, especially during hunting season, as those guys buy a lot of $5 a gallon fuel. At the smaller airports, just about everybody hunts, and guns are no big deal either. I've never seen an airport business posted 30.06. And no one has ever questioned me about carrying gun cases out to the plane (even small ones).

These security protocols do seem to do a good job of keeping honest, law-abiding citizens from hijacking aircraft.

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