By GabbyI am very excited to be planning a summer trip that will involve a fair amount of shooting. Therefore, for the first time, I will have to fly, with a weapon. I will also be outside my home state (with my weapon) and handling weapons that belong to others.
I have asked some experts and have already received some advice, but I still have tons of questions left to research, so as I discover the rules and solutions, I will share with you, my process.
- One thing I know for sure, is that guns are not allowed in my carry-on. So I have set aside the funds to check a bag (both ways). A few professional gun women have informed me that I need a lockable box but I'm a details girl so this advice leads me to questions...
- My airline's documentation states that the case must be locked, hard-sided and specifically designed for gun storage. Since the gun case that my gun came in is kind of flimsy I will invest in a steel "TSA" approved box. It just seems like the smartest way to go.
- Scopes, suppressors, tools and maybe a few other related items, but everything must be in one gun-case (or they will charge me more)
- The airline's site repeatedly states that gun-related items "will be accepted as checked luggage." So just to be on the safe side, my carry-on will only contain flight essentials.
- not necessary
- If your airport has a check point before you enter the check-in area, be prepared to declare your weapon there as well as at the check-in desk. The Atlanta airport does not. However, I fly into New York's LaGuardia Airport multiple times per year. In New York State, long guns are relatively easy to own but pistols require a significant amount of paperwork and fees.
Pop Quiz: Can the NYPD arrest you immediately upon arrival, for having a firearm in your luggage?Before you google it, keep reading. *The answer can be found below. The point is, know the laws in every state (and, sometimes, in every county) you and your firearm visit.
- According to my carrier's website I must check in at the desk and declare to the representative that I am checking a firearm. (Bummer, I usually check in online and have my boarding-pass sent to my phone. I haven't seen a check-in desk in years!) I will have to present my unloaded weapon to personnel and sign a "Firearm Unloaded" declaration.
- It doesn't seem to matter. Theoretically, the box will only be opened in my presence. The TSA will not mark the outside of the bag as containing a firearm, but they will scan the bag before it heads to the plane. They will see the gun, open my bag & see the paper I signed at check-in, declaring the "Firearm Unloaded".
- I am planning to do so, since I am a little concerned that all this airport weapon flashing might get my baby some unwanted attention. There is an article linked to the image on the right that likes this technique. Doing so will keep any itchy-fingered TSA agent from claiming the small inner box as his own. However, luggage gets lost all the time, I speak from experience, so I should really be more concerned with the whole package.
- All of these rules are in place to protect the plane, passengers, flight crew and ground crew. But I've just flashed an expensive, dangerous item to an airport full of strangers; What systems are in place to protect me and my property? Unfortunately, the TSA has limited concern for my property, so it's up to me to be as careful and prepared as possible.
- Actually, flying with a gun is even more of a reason not to try and keep the TSA out of my checked bag. As I said before, they will be scanning my bag, along with everyone else's bags, before sending them down to get put on the plane. When they scan the bag they will see the gun and definitely open my bag. If I were to lock the bag, they would either, tear it open, or not allow the bag on the plane. Since I don't want either scenario to transpire, I will use a TSA approved lock on the outside of my luggage. I will also make sure that opening the bag, doesn't create an avalanche or lacy under garments and feminine products.
- A friend told me she allowed for an EXTRA hour, on-top of the recommended airport arrival time, but since she was traveling with a large number of weapons, I believe an extra half hour-45 minutes, should do the trick. The TSA's site says that once I hand off my bag I am to proceed through security to my gate and they will contact me if needed. I understand this to mean: Bring a good book and band-aids for the fingernails I will likely chew off until my flight departs.
- The airline's website has worded this a little funny. It says, "Ammunition in excess of 11 lbs. per passenger or that contains potential projectiles is not allowed."-Airline Site. Now, I realize that lay people don't know the difference between "ammunition" and "bullets" but it sound to me like a box of practice rounds is a no-go. I mean, unless you carry casings and gun-powder, separate from any "projectiles", I'm not sure what kind of "ammunition" would be acceptable based on this wording. So, I went to see what the TSA says about ammo. They agree that a small amount of ammunition, .75 caliber or less, "for personal use", is allowed but one should check with the airline. After I call the airline, I will be checking for local ammo shops between the airport and my destination.
*Answer: Sorry, that was a trick question. NYC has completely different gun laws than NY State. No matter what firearm is in your luggage, if you are not credentialed to carry a weapon in NYC, you are S.O.L. when your plane lands.
Next up: Carrying, Driving, Staying while away from home.
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