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Have Gun, Will Travel

By Gabby

x-ray suitecase I 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...
  • Must the box be metal or can it be plastic?Tsa approved gun case
      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.
  • What else can go in the box with the weapon?
      Scopes, suppressors, tools and maybe a few other related items, but everything must be in one gun-case (or they will charge me more)
  • What else can't go in my carry on? (ie. holsters & speed-loaders, magazines & parts, tools etc.)
      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.
  • Should the weapon be disassembled?
      not necessary

    • What are my Airport's rules? Also, what are the rules at your destination airport?
        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.
    • Will I need to get to or open the box between packing at my house and unpacking at my destination?
        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.
    • Should the lock on my gun box be keyed or combination?
        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".
      Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
    • Can I bolt the box down into the structure of my suite case?
        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.
    • Can I lock my luggage? We all know the TSA no longer allows typical locking of suitcases, but this is a special situation, right?
        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.
    • How early should I get to the airport?
        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.
    • Can I fly with Ammo?
        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.
    • Homework: Flying home will require me to check-in at an unfamiliar airport, what rules do they have there?

      *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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      Adelgado1031@gmail.com said...

      If you fly through NY, hope you have no delays or cancellations. Then you will be SOL. Have fun, chica!

      Tyler said...

      All i can say is, don't go to California!! Gun laws nightmare, especially for flyers. I do sympathize with you, flying with firearms can sometimes be confusing when the TSA rules change slightly with the state of our national security. 

      Blog YourMystery said...

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      Al Metcalf said...

      You were wrong to lock it with a TSA lock. Their own website says to use a lock that no one else has a key to. That means the TSA as well. Once it is checked they must call you to unlock it. Some people fly with a gun just so stuff doesn't get stolen out of their luggage by TSA since they have to call you back if it needs opening.

      Nk said...

      You are wrong the NYPD will not arrest you. NYC area airports are Port Authority Police, that covers JFK, LGA, and Newwark ( N.J. ) Depending on which airport you arrive you need to abide by each areas specific laws. Smaller airports with in each state have different regulations. NYS and NJ regulations differ greatly.

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