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Supreme Court Rejects Appeal of New Jersey Weapons Arrest Case

It's a traveler's headache: missing your connection and losing your luggage. That headache became a nightmare for a Utah man who spent 10 days in jail after missing his Newark connection and finding out that the airline had misplaced his luggage.

The man was arrested by New Jersey police on weapons charges after they discovered his luggage contained an unloaded, registered gun he had legally checked in with the airline before his flight left Salt Lake City.

The U.S. Supreme Court recently turned down the man's request to be allowed to sue New Jersey police and the Port Authority of New York over the 2005 incident.

The man was originally booked to fly from Salt Lake City to Allentown, Pa. He had connecting flights in Minneapolis and Newark. Before leaving, he'd checked his licensed gun and ammo with his bags in Utah, assuming they'd be delivered in Allentown.

But his flight was late into Newark, so he missed the connecting plane to Allentown. The airline offered to send passengers to Allentown by bus, but the man realized his luggage wasn't on the bus, so he declined the offer.

He tracked down his bags in the Newark airport, took them with to a nearby hotel, where he stayed the night so that he could take a flight the next morning.

Big problem: when checking in the next morning, he told airline officials about his gun and ammunition; they informed airport security; he was then arrested by Port Authority and state officials for having a firearm in New Jersey without a New Jersey firearms license.

The man argued that he broke no laws by checking his gun in Utah and that it's not his fault he was delayed in New Jersey.

Prosecutors replied that regardless of circumstances, the fact of the matter is that the man was in New Jersey with a gun and without a New Jersey license.

Courts have said that though they sympathize with the man's unusual plight, he can't sue the police. The Supreme Court backed that view when it turned down his appeal.

Resource: Associated Press: "High court denies man's gun arrest appeal": January 18, 2011