New York Locks Up Woman For Declaring Pistol In Checked Baggage

A woman traveling back to Colorado from New York with her handgun was arrested.

​Colonie, NY – A Colorado woman was arrested in a New York airport when she tried to check her handgun for her flight home on Jan. 10, in accordance with TSA guidelines.

Haley Leach, 28, followed proper airport protocol for checking a weapon, and declared her handgun to the Southwest counter agent when she checked in for her flight.

However, Leach was not in possession of a pistol permit for the state of New York, so police arrested her.

Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple told WTEN it’s a common problem in New York, and that lots of people from nearby states get arrested for bringing their weapons into New York without knowing the state’s gun laws.

“We’re taking so many law abiding citizens and basically making them criminals,” Sheriff Apple said.

“These are people that are professionals,” he said. “They are doctors, pilots, lawyers, cops, firemen, whatever the case may be, and then when they go to fly out they get arrested.”

Leach had been staying with family in Hunter since November, WNYT reported.

An expert said she likely had no idea she was breaking the law when she brought her handgun, legal in Colorado, to the state of New York.

“It’s frustrating for people who don’t know the law,” Leslie McDermott, manager of The Indoor Shooting Range, told WTEN.

McDermott said he has to advise new customers on a daily basis of what the law is in New York. He said customers visiting from nearby states like Vermont and Massachusetts, don’t realize their concealed carry permits from those states mean nothing once they’ve crossed the state line.

Leach was released on $200 bail and must return to New York to appear in court in February.

Sheriff Apple said something needed to change, and blamed the problem on New York’s lack of reciprocity for gun permits. Whereas other states have adopted the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, the state of New York has not.

Nineteen states have agreed to reciprocity for concealed carry permits. Twenty states offer partial reciprocity.

A few states offer limited reciprocity in a vehicle while a gun owner is traversing the state.

New York, California, Connecticut, Oregon, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Maryland, and the District of Columbia do not extend reciprocity to any other state.

The federal legislation that proposed the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017 passed the U.S. House of Representatives in December of 2017. It was referred to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee where it awaited further action.

The proposed bill amended the federal criminal code to allow "a qualified individual to carry a concealed handgun into, or possess a concealed handgun in, another state that allows individuals to carry concealed firearms."

If passed, the reciprocity law would remove most of the confusion regarding where an individual’s firearms are legal.

Do you think that New York should be arresting people for being in possession of an unloaded pistol that they legally own? We'd like to hear from you. Please let us know in the comments.

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"Nineteen states have agreed to reciprocity for concealed carry permits. Twenty states offer partial reciprocity."

Author needs to review the above. Yeah it is a confusing mess and important to understand the differences between reciprocity and recognition.

Sorry but excuse me while I rant a bit here. Around 25 states already have what is essentially National Recognition in place. This means if you have a valid state issued carry permit from your home state then your permit is automatically valid in those states. Sometimes this involves reciprocity which is both states formally agreeing to honor the other state’s permits. Sometimes it's just a 1-way recognition.

Someone with a New York state carry permit has a permit that appears to be valid in over 25 (? 27) states that offer some recognition of the New York state permit. Yes half the country recognizes it yet New York doesn't recognize any other state's permits? I mean come on you folks in Albany, you have some explaining to do.

At the very least New York state laws need to be rewritten to prevent these kinds of stories involving non-residents just making harmless mistakes over misunderstandings of law. There is zero reason to not fix this. Heck you even have a New York Sheriff calling this out for how wrong it is. He's calling it out because he knows this is not justice and he knows that people like Haley Leach are not part of the gun crime problem. On a side note certain anti-gun organizations will use her arrest in their “gun violence” stats even though she had zero intent to harm anyone, thought she was doing the right thing, and just got ensnared in a New York legal trap.

For those that say she should have known the New York laws? Okay, I'll give you that to a degree. Still, regardless of your politics or how you feel about guns, do you think it's appropriate to arrest this lady and turn her into a criminal? New Yorkers do you think this case is good use of your law enforcement and justice system resources? Quick question, the last time you took a road trip or vacation did you review all the traffic and vehicle laws of each state you passed through? I bet not and it's generally a non-issue since one state's driver license is good in another and most traffic laws are fairly consistent across state lines. Do you radically change how your drive every time you cross a state line? No you don’t and it’s helpful to remember that driving is a privilege, not a Right.

Yes the New York Governor and AG will scream at the thought of recognizing handgun permits from other states while most of the country has been doing this for decades. Their stated reason will be along the lines of other states don't vet citizens as well as they do. I would suggest a reporter do some open minded research on such claims. Yes there are a few states with lower requirements, but there are MANY that have just as good or better vetting and training requirements than New York has in place.

Examples are useful so just off the top of my head? Let us ask why New York does not already honor Connecticut and Rhode Island handgun permits? Connecticut has equal vetting and slightly better training requirements than New York has. Rhode Island has some of the highest standards in the nation, far beyond New York's. That's just two states off the top of my head that New York should already be recognizing permits from.

Heck from what I see from a quick review of New York's carry permit requirements they don't even have a live fire test??? It appears a resident can get a New York carry permit without demonstrating to a qualified firearms instructor that they can use a handgun safely and have at least minimal marksmanship skills? The more I read of NY firearms law the harder it is for me to not laugh at some of the past statements from the Governor and Attorney General's office. I see some good things, but I see a lot of bureaucratic mess and “feel good” stuff that ultimately does nothing for public safety.

Forget National Reciprocity if you wish, but ultimately the question is why doesn't New York at least honor permits from the many states with vetting and training requirements equal to or better than their own requirements? New York Governor Coumo and AG Eric Schneiderman please explain why you don't at least honor permits from states with similar and sometimes even higher standards?

Memo to the politicians in Albany, it's past time for you to fix this mess. In most states what Haley Leach did would be a non-issue, goes on daily, and oddly this includes many states that consistently rank in the top 10 safest states to live in. You’re not making your state safer by turning citizens like Haley Leach into criminals as she’s not the problem. Heck even your own law enforcement is telling you the same thing. Let the criminal justice system pursue and punish the real criminals versus wasting time and resources making criminals out of non-criminal visitors like Haley Leach.

Congratulations to certain NY politicians, you just made a criminal out of a 28 year old school teacher that had no criminal intent. Heck barring this no-harm mistake she made, she’s probably the textbook definition of the type of citizen we want having a handgun. Your laws may be well intended, but they are seriously flawed. Do the right thing, push for dismissal of these charges, then get to work fixing this legal mess before you victimize more visitors.


What I'm guessing happened (because NYC has been doing this to many people recently) is that they arrested her for possession of both the firearm and ammunition at the same time. NYC and NJ were up to their tricks years ago when they arrested people for simple possession of the firearm. For example, a man declaring his gun properly in SLC was delayed on a layover in New Jersey. He never planned on staying in New Jersey, but because his connection was cancelled, he had to collect his bags and stay overnight in a hotel the airline put him in for a new flight in the morning. When he returned to redeclare his gun at the ticket counter in the morning, he was arrested. It took years and thousands of dollars in expense, but he finally got out of the charges because federal law protects you if you're traveling from point A to point B. That means passing directly through the state without stopping. If you stop for gas and food, that's permissible, but not sightseeing or visiting people. The fact that this woman had been visiting family for a few months with her unregistered gun was illegal according to NY law, but it's possible this never came up initially as probable cause to arrest her. More likely, NY arrested her based on the possession of both the firearm and ammunition at the same time (we assume she brought ammo with her) which is considered a "loaded" gun in NY. Even if you carry them in separate bags, if you have both in your possession the gun is loaded according to their law. It's their new way to harass people. Look up the report by John Stossel in August where he interviews people arrested for this law. He calls the DA a sadistic bully and the man responds that he only enforces the law and doesn't make it.


So, let me get this straight. A citizen is on airport property with a handgun that is properly stored and has been properly declared by the citizen in accordance with FAA and Federal Regulations. The citizen is arrested by local police. The airport is under control of the Federal Government and any and all outside agencies are guests of the Federal Government and are required to follow all Federal Regulations. The Federal Government pays outside Public Agencies for Assistance in Public Safety at airports through airline revenue. The State of New York is in violation of Federal Law. The citizen was not stopped on the street that is controlled by the State of New York but, on Federal Controled Property. Unless the Federal Government made the arrest and compliant the State of New York and their agencies under their control are in violation of the citizens rights. We need the NRA to challenge New York in court to stop the out of control Liberal Minded Goverments violating Law Abiding US Citizens.

One more thought, where is the ACLU in protecting the rights of this citizen against unnecessary intrusion of free movement and self protection?


It was in her checked baggage peter, not in her carry on. If it were in her carry on, she'd be arrested at any airport in the world. All airlines require that you declare any firearms that is in checked luggage.


Would you not check with the entry states law before going. What is legal in one state is not necessary legal in another. Her own fault for not using a bit of common sense. Also would it have been safer to put it in her checked baggage and declare it there.