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Flying and Declaring handgun in your checked bag

This is a discussion on Flying and Declaring handgun in your checked bag within the Concealed Carry Issues & Discussions forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; We've done this A LOT with a LOT of different guns. We are always pretty surprised at how quick it goes. One thing's for sure, ...

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Thread: Flying and Declaring handgun in your checked bag

  1. #16
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    Array limatunes's Avatar
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    We've done this A LOT with a LOT of different guns. We are always pretty surprised at how quick it goes.

    One thing's for sure, every airline handles things differently to some degree. Sometimes we were asked to see the guns, sometimes we weren't. We always had to have the little "declared unloaded" ticket that we were supposed to put in the case and sometimes we weren't allowed to put it in there until it was checked and sometimes the TSA guys said, "Naw, we don't need to watch you do it, just put it in there." Totally depends.

    We always stick around to watch the guns go through security JUST IN CASE there's a problem. Every time we've watched them go through the scanner things the guys turn around and give us a thumbs up, we watch them (in the suitcase they are traveling in) get thrown on the belt going back to the plane and head to our gate.

    The most "delayed" I got while flying with guns was when I got to the counter and told the lady I was declaring a firearm.

    She said, "Okay."

    We stood there staring at one another in expectation for a few seconds....

    I said, "I need one of those declaration things to put in the case."

    She said, "What do they look like?"

    I said, "They are usually orange or yellow? Just a little tag I have to fill out and show to the TSA guys and put in the gun case."

    She looked around her station and then called another agent over. She said, "She's got a gun." I added, "TO DECLARE!!"

    The poor guy went from panicked to understanding in about 1/2 a second and said, "Ahh, okay. Is it unloaded?"

    "Yes."

    "Is it in a lockable case?"

    "Yes."

    "Here's the declaration form."

    "Thank you."

    "Have a good flight."

    We've never taken any ammo with us.. just makes it easier. We just stop at the nearest gun store, etc, and purchase what we want or need... some airlines are funny about the whole ammo thing and it makes it easier just to not include it.


  2. #17
    Senior Member Array BkCo1's Avatar
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    Bug, You can use a lockable pistol case for ammo. Load your magazines open end down in you mag carriers. I use cheap ones with a velcro flap. Put them in the pistol case and lock it with a padlock. My pistols go into a gun safe that has a combo lock and an ace lock. My EDC gear goes in the suitcase with the safe and pistol case. Also as Lima suggest you can buy ammo when you arrive but sometimes that is not convient. Using my method I can load up when I reach my destination without much attention or delay. Where are you looking to move to?
    Glockman, Did she wink back?
    Semper Fi

  3. #18
    VIP Member Array HKinNY's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TedBeau View Post
    I think the scariest was one where the flight was diverted to a non-gun friendly city, NYC, I believe. The OP retrieved the checked bag and was then charged with illegal possesion of a handgun because they did not have a NYC permit. I don't know what the best option here would be, I guess all you could do is refuse delivery of the bag and request that it be forwarded to the original destination.
    The best thing to do it contact the Port Authority of NY/NJ they are the LEO of the airports. I would not accept by bag and have either (a) airlines hold the bag in secure area (b) Have the PAPD hold by bag until the next day.

    Quote Originally Posted by apvbguy View Post
    with all due respect your trip reports while good do not offer good info for those who don't possess a NY permit. My advice would be to avoid NY when flying, there have been too many horror stories from there for people who are passing through with their guns.
    I have flown numerous times with my guns, other than having to check the bag at the check in desk there have been no delays or unusual events. Just stick to places that honor your permit or allow weapons possession without a permit. Places to avoid are NYC, NJ, DC, MD, IL, all of which have severe anti gun laws and restrictions.
    I have several posts with reguards to NY travel. I do not make the rules, I just play in the same sandbox. I am able to follow the rules. The Congressman Young letter allows me to travel from my house (with my Nassau County permit) and travel directly to the NYC airports without getting locked up. It is all good.

    There was an article that I posted the other day about a woman from Cali who got arrested for trying to declair a firearm in her checked lugage.

    Here is the link http://www.nraila.org/images/DOJltrTSA.pdf

    the whole key is that you are legal in where you start from and where you are going. You SHOULD be ok. I had one PA Leo. Say the letter would be a defense in court after an arrest, But you are a legit guy so have a great flight.

  4. #19
    Ex Member Array apvbguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HKinNY View Post
    The best thing to do it contact the Port Authority of NY/NJ they are the LEO of the airports. I would not accept by bag and have either (a) airlines hold the bag in secure area (b) Have the PAPD hold by bag until the next day.



    I have several posts with reguards to NY travel. I do not make the rules, I just play in the same sandbox. I am able to follow the rules. The Congressman Young letter allows me to travel from my house (with my Nassau County permit) and travel directly to the NYC airports without getting locked up. It is all good.

    There was an article that I posted the other day about a woman from Cali who got arrested for trying to declair a firearm in her checked lugage.

    Here is the link http://www.nraila.org/images/DOJltrTSA.pdf

    the whole key is that you are legal in where you start from and where you are going. You SHOULD be ok. I had one PA Leo. Say the letter would be a defense in court after an arrest, But you are a legit guy so have a great flight.
    tell this to the guy who spent 5 nights in jail because his connecting flight was cancelled. I will repeat, you have a NY permit, the rules are different for you because of that, for the rest of us who do not have NY permits your stories are meaningless and could even result in people be jailed. the best advice is to avoid NY, NJ, MD, DC, IL airports and any other place where they do not honor the permit you possess.
    MadMac and BkCo1 like this.

  5. #20
    Senior Member Array swinokur's Avatar
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    yes. quietly tell the counter person "I have a firearm to declare"

    best not to scare the sheep.

  6. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by TedBeau View Post
    Bufdude, I was really surprised to see that you, having been a member here for quite some time had not seen past threads about flying with guns. I have seen several. I think the scariest was one where the flight was diverted to a non-gun friendly city, NYC, I believe. The OP retrieved the checked bag and was then charged with illegal possesion of a handgun because they did not have a NYC permit. I don't know what the best option here would be, I guess all you could do is refuse delivery of the bag and request that it be forwarded to the original destination.

    I have never checked a handgun before, and if I do, I am sure I am going to be really nervous, and make sure I do all the research I can, making sure to print out all TSA and airline rules to carry with me.
    I hadn't flown since September 1, 2001. At that time, I was in NYC for the first time on a bus sitting at the base of the twin towers with several hundred other financial guys from our company. Ten days later, well, we all know what happened. I had not flown since and never intended on doing it again. Then, here recently, I interviewed and got a job just north of Tampa, Florida. We just went house hunting. I never really scanned the threads on flying because I was intent on not doing it anymore. So much for plans, huh?

    One thing I discovered on this trip. By the time I drove to Charlotte, NC, had a brief layover in Atlanta, and then flew into Tampa, rented a car, and drove to NPR I could have just driven the trip and it would have only taken another hour. I get to drive it next week when I start my new job...that's a long drive by yourself. Thinking about taking my father-in-law with me and flying him back.
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    Guns are like sex and air...its no big deal until YOU can't get any.

  7. #22
    VIP Member Array HKinNY's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by apvbguy View Post
    tell this to the guy who spent 5 nights in jail because his connecting flight was cancelled. I will repeat, you have a NY permit, the rules are different for you because of that, for the rest of us who do not have NY permits your stories are meaningless and could even result in people be jailed. the best advice is to avoid NY, NJ, MD, DC, IL airports and any other place where they do not honor the permit you possess.
    I have a Nassau County Permit. It is clearly stamped For Target only To and From Pistol Range. ( I will post another pic after I black out name). Not Valid in NYC.

    http://www.nraila.org/images/DOJltrTSA.pdf <--Best Thing ever

    If the lady from California left Vermont and drove straight to the NY airport she would be covered under under the Congressman Young Letter.

    Let see if the person followed the rules. Nope. I understand that NY,NJ,MD,DC and IL have diffrent and often diffcult rules. I have traveled to Las Vegas 4 times ,Texas twice, Florida twice (to name a few off the top of my head) with my firearm.Never a problem. I have no control of the plane. I know the rules and if the plane landed in any of the above states I would either (A) Not take possision of my bag and ask the local PD or Airport authority and see how they wish to handle it (B) Rent a car and start driving back home to NY with the gun in the trunk and ammo in glove box to be covered under the federal transportant law. In the case of NJ I would discard the hollow points.

    As I said It is NOt my sandbox so I dont make the rules but you better believe I will follow them. The rules stink. Not fair. But I understand them and will make it work to the best of my ability.
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  8. #23
    Ex Member Array apvbguy's Avatar
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    you never had a problem in your travels because the states you visited do not have the draconian gun laws like NY has. you are permitted to possess a gun in all those states, no permit necessary as long as you don't carry concealed on your person. You really should learn the laws if you are going to post here.
    as for your letter it isn't worth the paper it is written on.

  9. #24
    Senior Member Array swinokur's Avatar
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    I am not sure the Congressman Young letter covers people driving into the airport, even though it's mentioned. IIRC it's intent was to prevent people who arrived by air and changed planes in NYC from being arrested while in the airport by the PA police.
    Be very careful. As mentioned,if you have to layover in NYC, do not take possession of the bag. The airline should handle

    Check ammo weight restrictions before flying. IE United allows 11 pounds but Alaska Air allows 50 lbs. Some airlines will not allow loaded mags even if the open end is covered. Call ahead to find out.

  10. #25
    Member Array VanguardMP's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by limatunes View Post
    We've done this A LOT with a LOT of different guns. We are always pretty surprised at how quick it goes.

    One thing's for sure, every airline handles things differently to some degree. Sometimes we were asked to see the guns, sometimes we weren't. We always had to have the little "declared unloaded" ticket that we were supposed to put in the case and sometimes we weren't allowed to put it in there until it was checked and sometimes the TSA guys said, "Naw, we don't need to watch you do it, just put it in there." Totally depends.

    We always stick around to watch the guns go through security JUST IN CASE there's a problem. Every time we've watched them go through the scanner things the guys turn around and give us a thumbs up, we watch them (in the suitcase they are traveling in) get thrown on the belt going back to the plane and head to our gate.

    The most "delayed" I got while flying with guns was when I got to the counter and told the lady I was declaring a firearm.

    She said, "Okay."

    We stood there staring at one another in expectation for a few seconds....

    I said, "I need one of those declaration things to put in the case."

    She said, "What do they look like?"

    I said, "They are usually orange or yellow? Just a little tag I have to fill out and show to the TSA guys and put in the gun case."

    She looked around her station and then called another agent over. She said, "She's got a gun." I added, "TO DECLARE!!"

    The poor guy went from panicked to understanding in about 1/2 a second and said, "Ahh, okay. Is it unloaded?"

    "Yes."

    "Is it in a lockable case?"

    "Yes."

    "Here's the declaration form."

    "Thank you."

    "Have a good flight."

    We've never taken any ammo with us.. just makes it easier. We just stop at the nearest gun store, etc, and purchase what we want or need... some airlines are funny about the whole ammo thing and it makes it easier just to not include it.
    My experiences seem to mirror limatunes above. I've flown a lot with my firearms and have never really had any problems. I will tell you do not use a cheap lockable firearms case. I did one time and by the time it reached our destination the case was busted open on one end. Luckily the firearms and most of the spare magazines I had in the case were still there, minus one. The airline did find it and returned it to me. Pelican, Storm, or another hard plastic or aluminum case are good.

    I did have a slightly funny incident once. The airline lady was apparently new and did not have firearms experience. My wife and I were traveling with long guns and pistols. The lady told me she had to ensure the weapons were cleared. I told her, "Ok." After I opened the action on the shotgun I was carrying she picked it up by the barrel with the stock up in the air and proceeded to look down the business end of the barrel to see if there was a round in it. I quickly shot a glance at my wife and we shook our heads and chuckled to ourselves. The other airline representative at the next kiosk just shook her head and the supervisor working at the end of the counter came running down when he saw her. He promptly explained she should never do that and showed her how to check the weapon properly.

    I know some may wonder why I didn't say something. It's because some airline employees don't want to be told how to do their jobs. I've found there's no use trying to explain how it's all supposed to work or to argue with them.

    Otherwise most never seem to have an issue with it. I've also found the TSA employees are usually good too.

    VMP

  11. #26
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    how does the process of picking up the firearm work do they hold it at a certain area usually or just send it through on the conveyer thing where one would normally pick baggage up?

  12. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pyro07 View Post
    how does the process of picking up the firearm work do they hold it at a certain area usually or just send it through on the conveyer thing where one would normally pick baggage up?
    Luggage with weapons are not externally marked. The are delivered as standard luggage.

  13. #28
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    Can you have more then one gun in the same case?

    It would make sense that you could but we are talking about the federal government here...

  14. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ragin Cajun View Post
    Can you have more then one gun in the same case?

    It would make sense that you could but we are talking about the federal government here...
    Yes. And the comment about storing ammo is not 100%, as ammo rules vary drastically between airlines; sometimes you may be able to leave the mag (not the gun!) loaded, sometimes you may have to put everything back into original packaging, some it can be in the same case, some it must be separately cased, etc. check airline and TSA rules before flying, keep a copy on your person and in your bag.

    TSA: Traveling with Special Items

    Biggest tip I can offer is allow plenty of extra time, it'll put you under less stress and allow you to go to secondary inspection areas if needed. It's better to worry about the status of the firearm sitting at the gate, than to be racing to the gate wondering if your firearm will be making enough progress to fly with you. I also separate slides from frame, so if you get someone that wants to fondle them, they're less dangerous, even though I've cleared them before packing them.

    Glock Certified Armorer

  15. #30
    Senior Member Array kb2wji's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by high pockets View Post
    Kind of depends on a few things.

    What city were you flying to?

    What city were you flying through?

    Did you have to change airlines?

    I don't know about other cities, but if you were flying into Atlanta, you can expect a delay to re-claim your bag of 45 - 90 minutes. I never check a bag into Atlanta, if I can help it.
    I just flew to Vegas using Atlanta. I'd say a total of maybe 5 minutes delay.

    I think the key is to be more confident than the baggage people. Tell them what they're regulations are, as you demonstrate. "My gun is unloaded, in a locked metal safe inside my luggage. My ammo is in a seperate ammunition specific box that is seperate from my gun, per your airlines regulations" Then, request the orange tag that you sign, swearing that your gun is unloaded. If you seem to know exactly what you are doing, people are less likely to question you (read: cause problems and delays for you).

    The in-car safe works perfectly. The cable lock that it comes with is perfect for wrapping around the "spine" that runs inside a rolling suitcase with an expandable handle. Thus, locking your safe to your luggage. It wont outsmart a pair of bolt cutters, but it'll keep the honest people honest.

    No matter how prepped you are, its always a little nerve racking the first time you fly with a gun.
    BugDude likes this.

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