There is ALOT of useful information in here on how to travel with your firearms!
With the NSSF SHOT Show on the horizon, it is likely that many TFB readers will find themselves packing for a flight to Las Vegas this January. There have been sporadic reports of hotels on the strip who are considering new measures that seek to screen guests for guns, but if that doesn’t dissuade you from transporting your favorite lead accelerator in your luggage, perhaps it’s time we had a brief discussion about flying with firearms.
For much of my life, I have been traveling throughout this country and around the globe, and for over a decade now, whenever it was permissible, I have packed firearms in my checked baggage. I have logged nearly a million miles in the sky with guns at this point, and starting in 2009 I began lecturing and writingextensively about the lifestyle of jet-setting-while-armed.
By and large, this is a smooth process wherever you go within the United States. Many individuals have written to me and expressed relief and joy over what proved to be an unremarkable trip when previously they may have harbored concerns about the treatment they would receive at the airport. Knowing what to expect is a big help, and in this series of articles for TFB, I hope to arm you with wisdom, tips, and advice that will help ensure your flights with firearms go as smoothly as a copper-jacketed bullet down a Melonite-treated bore.
YES, THIS IS COMPLETELY LEGAL
Just in case anyone out there doubts me, let me direct you to the FAA’s page on this topic, the TSA’s page on this topic, and previous content posted here at TFB.
Not only is flying with firearms a splendid way of exercising your 2nd Amendment rights while you enjoy your freedom to travel, but it also can offer you increased peace of mind. While everybody else’s luggagemay be subject to unwanted attention by those who would rifle through it in search of valuables to potentially liberate, your gun case gets to fly completely, and totally, locked. I, for one, love the sight of my Pelican case on the baggage ramp next to my aircraft when I can see the twinkle of gleaming steel padlocks on each hasp.
When you travel as much as my associates and I do, sheer numbers dictate that once in a while your luggage will miss a connection or otherwise be subject to unexpected routing. The odds have caught up with me more than once. But even when I’ve had my luggage delivered via courier late that night or the following morning, I was able to rest easy knowing that it was locked the entire time.
The Basic Procedure and Requirements
IS YOUR LUGGAGE SUITABLE?
As stated in the FAA’s and TSA’s documentation, linked above, firearms may travel in checked luggageprovided that they are within a suitable hard-sided case. What makes something “suitable” in their eyes? The guiding principle which applies is that, once locked, it should be infeasible for someone to get a finger inside of the container. I have even seen TSA screeners apply this exact test to rifle and pistol cases.
The hard-sided case may either be your actual piece of checked luggage, or it may be a smaller case, provided it is capable of being “locked” no matter how laughably.
As you can see, it’s quite possible to comply with the letter of the law but not the spirit of the law. I always personally opt for using large, hard-sided luggage because it affords not just protection to my firearm, but also to the rest of my possessions. If you pack a pistol inside of a small case stowed within a duffel bag or soft-sided luggage, you may be “locking up” your gun, but nothing else flying with you that day is being secured. I like leveraging the law in such a way that not only my carry piece but also my laptop, my clothes, my Dopp kit, and invariably a bottle of whiskey are all protected by the same locks and hard outer shell.
WHAT CONSTITUTES A FIREARM?
As folk who have read some of my anecdotes are aware, when you are traveling to regions that are not so gun-friendly – or if you are checking multiple cases of gear and want them each to be secured but have little need for more than one pistol at your destination – it is possible to leverage the law in such a way that you lock all of your bags without actually checking gun after gun. Remember, the law says that all firearmsmust be checked in locked, secured luggage. What constitutes a firearm?
- Proper guns…