Law-Abiding Gun Owner Says There's A Message in His Lawsuit

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:22 PM EDT

( - Second Amendment supporters have filed a lawsuit stemming from the wrongful arrest of a Utah man who was detained at the Newark, N.J., airport because he had a gun in his luggage.

As required by federal law, the firearm was unloaded, locked and stored in a case inside Gregg Revell's luggage. Although federal law protects law-abiding citizens who travel with firearms, Revell nevertheless was arrested for possessing a firearm without a New Jersey state license.

Federal law should have trumped state and local law in Revell's case, said the Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs, Inc.

The Association said it is suing the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and one of its police officers for wrongfully arresting and imprisoning Revell, who spent five days in jail before his family raised the required $15,000 cash to bail him out.

The lawsuit seeks more than $3-million for civil rights violations; and a permanent injunction forcing the Port Authority to follow federal law on the interstate transportation of firearms. It also sends a message.

"The Port Authority blatantly violated federal law when it arrested Gregg Revell," said Scott Bach, president of the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs and a member of the NRA Board of Directors.

"Those charged with enforcing the law have a special responsibility to follow it themselves," Bach said. He called Revell's arrest part of a pattern of misconduct by the Port Authority.

"This lawsuit is intended to send a signal, not only to the Port Authority but to every agency and officer responsible for policing our airports and highways: if you violate the rights of law-abiding gun owners, you will be held fully accountable."

Revell, 57, was traveling from his home in Utah to Allentown, Pa., to pick up a car, which he intended to drive back to Utah, the Association said. Revell, who had a Utah firearms permit and no criminal record, properly stored and declared his firearm in Utah.

The trouble began when Revell missed his connection to Allentown and spent the night in Newark. He was arrested the next morning after returning to the Newark airport, where he once again declared his firearm, as required by FAA regulations.

Several months after Revell's arrest, all charges were withdrawn and the case was dismissed.

"I did nothing wrong yet was arrested and subjected to the worst treatment imaginable for almost a week," said Revell, who said he received abusive and unsanitary treatment during his five days in a New Jersey jail.

"I brought this lawsuit together with the Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs because I want to stop this kind of abuse from ever happening again," said Revell.

The Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs noted that Revell's travels were protected by the Firearms Owner Protection Act of 1986, a law that protects interstate travel with firearms under certain conditions -- all of which Revell met.

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