Guest Post: Charged With A Felony For Transporting A Legally-Owned Gun
My name is Beth Arneson Ferrizzi. I live in Moorhead, MN. I am a 29 year old stay at home mother and a military wife. I have a 6 year old daughter and am 6 months pregnant. My husband is a Master Sergeant Select who has served multiple tours in Iraq. He is currently on a year long unaccompanied tour in Honduras.
On March 16th, my daughter and I flew to New York City to visit my best friend, meet my husband, and attend his sister’s wedding in Philadelphia, PA. I asked my husband if he would show me where he grew up while we were in Philly. He agreed, but warned me it was a rough neighborhood. He asked me to bring his handgun with me, just in case. My husband has a conceal to carry permit in the state of North Dakota with reciprocity in Pennsylvania.
Prior to my departure from Fargo, ND, I went on the Delta Airline website to read the policy on transporting a firearm. I also called the Delta customer service hotline and I explained that I was planning to transport my husband’s gun and wanted to be sure I followed the proper procedures. I felt the information I was given was somewhat confusing, especially in regard to transportation of ammunition. I then talked to my husband about what I had been told on the phone and I went to Walmart to find out more about ammunition packaging and what, if any, ammo transportation cases they sold. After gathering additional information, I drove to the airport in Fargo, ND and spoke to a Delta employee directly. I again told the agent of my desire to transport my husband’s gun to New York City and asked what specifically I was required to do.
I was told the gun had to be declared when I checked my bag. I was told the gun had to be unloaded and in a hard sided gun case. I was told the case had to be locked and I needed to keep the key with me in the event that security needed me to open the case. I was told that I could transport the ammunition in its original packaging. I was told as long as the bullets were separated from each other, for example not tossed in a plastic zip lock bag, that it was perfectly fine. I specifically asked if they could be inside the same locked case as the gun, and was told yes.
When my daughter and I arrived at the airport in Fargo, ND, I went to the Delta counter and declared that I had an unloaded firearm in a locked case inside the suitcase I was checking. I was asked to sign a piece of paper and place it anywhere inside my checked bag. My bag was taken, checked, and I was told I could go. I told the Delta agent that I had been previously told that I could not go through security until my checked bag had been cleared. I waited for my checked bag to be checked and was told everything was in order. My daughter and I got on the plane and flew to New York.
When we arrived at LaGuardia Airport in New York, I was not stopped by anyone from the airline, security, or the police. I picked up my checked bag at baggage claim and continued on with my vacation. Throughout the time we were in New York, the gun remained inside its locked case inside my suitcase. It was not taken out until we arrived in Philadelphia, PA. Prior to leaving Philadelphia, the gun was unloaded and returned to the locked case.
On March 26th, I returned with my daughter to LaGuardia Airport. I arrived early and followed the same steps I had prior to boarding the plane in Fargo, ND. I went to the Delta counter and declared that I had an unloaded firearm in a locked case inside my bag I wanted to check. Upon hearing this, the Delta agent called the Port Authority Police.
I would like to say that my treatment while in the custody of the New York Port Authority Police was fantastic. The officers that I came into contact with went far above and beyond what was required of them by their position. They did everything they could to make me comfortable and to help me in any way they could. I am deeply appreciative of the courtesy that was shown to both me and my daughter.
I am charged with a class C felony, illegal possession of a loaded firearm. I have been released on my own recognizance, but will need to travel back to New York for trial. At that time I will be breast feeding a new born baby. Unknown to me, under New York Law, I was not supposed to transport a handgun, even within a locked case. I was completely unaware of this. Despite my taking every step I could think of to make sure I was transporting the gun legally and safely, completely unbeknowst to me, I had made a mistake. The gun is being considered loaded because I was in possession of the gun and ammunition at the same time. There was no ammo in the gun or magazine. It was in its original packaging, exactly as it was when it was purchased. I am being charged the same as if I had walked into the airport with a chambered round.
I agree with gun laws to decrease violent crimes. I do my best to set a good example for my daughter and to be a law abiding citizen. I am from a family who is involved in the community, my mother is a retired teacher and my father owns a small business. I volunteer at my daughter’s school. I bake cookies and send food to the younger troops on my husband’s crews. Prior to being married, I was a single parent who struggled to work and go to college. I got a degree to make a better life for my daughter. I enjoy reading, crafts, playing board games and shopping for antiques. I believe that I am being over charged for my lack of knowledge. I was misinformed. Crimes should be judged on a case by case basis, and what is happening to me and my family is wrong.
I am reaching out, looking for anyone who can help us. I did not intentionally or knowingly break any laws. Laws should be meant to keep people safe and to punish criminals who intentionally do wrong. Laws should not be used to heavily punish those doing everything possible to try to do the right thing. If you can help our family, or have any questions please email B.ArnesonFerrizzi@gmail.com.
You can read more about Ferizzi’s case here.