The e-mail reply I just got from TSA
Thank you for your email message concerning the checked baggage screening process and how it affects passengers carrying firearms in checked baggage.
On flights that originate in the U.S. passengers can transport a firearm in accordance with 49 CFR §1540.111 under the following conditions:
. the firearm must be unloaded;
. it must be in checked, not carry-on, baggage;
. it must be in a locked hard-sided container; and
. it must be declared to the airline.
If these conditions are met, the airline will place a declaration tag inside the checked baggage containing the firearm. This notice alerts Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) to the presence of the firearm if they have to open the bag to inspect it.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is required by law to electronically screen all checked baggage that goes aboard a commercial passenger flight. If electronic screening cannot verify that a bag and its contents are safe to bring onboard the flight, TSOs will inspect the bag by hand. TSA, therefore, encourages (but does not require) passengers to keep their checked bags unlocked to facilitate the process and reduce the need to break locks.
TSA recommends that you place the locked hard-sided container with the firearm inside a suitcase or other bag before you check it with your airline. This will allow you to leave your suitcase unlocked but also to comply with the requirement that the firearm be in a locked container.
You can use a hard-sided locked suitcase as the sole container for your firearm. However, this can lead to one of the two following complications if your bag needs to be inspected by hand:
. If the TSOs can determine from the screening equipment that the bag contains a firearm, they will not open it. They will instead attempt to locate you and obtain the key or combination so that they can inspect the bag. If they cannot locate you, the bag will not be allowed onboard the aircraft.
. If the TSOs do not see that the bag contains a firearm before they open it, they may force open the lock and proceed to inspect the bag. Once the lock is forced open, the bag cannot be allowed on an aircraft until it is relocked. TSA will attempt to locate you and make suitable arrangements.
These potential inconveniences can be avoided by following TSA's recommendation that you pack your firearm by itself in a separate, hard-sided, locked container and pack the container inside your suitcase. If TSOs need to open your bag to inspect it, they will be able to do so with out breaking a lock on the bag.
Once the TSOs open the bag, they will see the declaration in your suitcase and will not open the locked container encasing the firearm. They will proceed to search the bag, close it, and (presuming the bag is free of prohibited items) will be able to allow it onboard your flight.
We encourage you to visit our website at TSA | Transportation Security Administration | U.S. Department of Homeland Security for additional information about TSA. We continue to add new information and encourage you to check the website frequently for updated information.
TSA Contact Center
Traveiling With a Companion
Having traveled a number of times, here's how I go at it:
- Put the unloaded weapon(s) in a lockable hard-sided case with locks only you have the keys/combination to open. TSA locks are not allowed. Review http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtrav...rial_1666.shtm to understand TSA policies and procedures. Have a copy with you when you reach the airport.
- Steps that will make it easier to show that the weapon is unloaded - especially when x-rayed.
- If the weapon is a:
- lock the slide open
- put a cable tie through the barrel and out the breach to show that the chamber is empty
- revolver, flip the cylinder out
- Do not put the magazines in this locked case with the gun(s):
- it invites questions about them being loaded
- if the gun case is "liberated" from the checked bag by a Criminal Entrepreneur, the lack of magazines frustrates the "Liberator", since the weapon is now initially a single shot one
- Check the airline(s) you are flying on:
- To determine if the ammo
- MUST be in boxes (plastic reload boxes work)
- can fly in loaded magazines
- If loaded magazines are permitted, make sure the pouches fully cover the magazines
- The round(s) from the chamber(s)/cylinder(s) must be in a box, not loose
- Secure and protect magazines (separately from the weapon) and ammunition boxes from possible damage.
- Put the lockable hard-sided case with the weapon and the ammo/magazines into a cheap, non-descript bag - with clear labeling outside and inside - for checking in.
- If possible, develop a way to attach - in a lockable way - the hard-sided case to the piece of luggage it has been placed into.
- The labeling should be limited to:
- Your Name
- Your Cell Phone - if you have one, or your home phone if you do not
- Your personal email address - if you have one
- NO ADDRESSES, JOB TITLES, ORGANIZATIONS SHOULD BE INDICATED
- Other stuff - like shampoo, mouthwash, toothpaste, etc, could be in this checked bag also.
- Have the rules for the airline in hand when you check this non-descript bag at the airport.
- Make sure you have the keys/combinations to the lockable hard-sided case with you and you alone (Per Federal Regulations 49CFR § 1540.111 Carriage of weapons, explosives, and incendiaries by individuals - Electronic Code of Federal Regulations:) at all times. You will have to open the lockable hard-side case:
- to demonstrate to the airline that the weapon(s) are not loaded at check in (a signed form/tag indicating that will go in with the weapon(s))
- if the TSA wants to see
- 9.Have the serial number(s) and descriptions of your weapons on you, so if they "disappear" you can report the loss/theft immediately to the:
- FAA Regional Office
- ATF Regional Office
Other things to consider:
- Check Handgunlaw.us and/or Pack-N-Go Carry Concealed Trip Planner to determine:
- If you can possess the weapon at all your stops
- Where and how you can carry at all your stops
- What are the deadly force rules in each state you are visiting
- Have a copy of the Don Young Transportation Letter on hand - http://www.anjrpc.org/DefendingYourR...s%20letter.pdf. This covers changing modes of travel - car to plane to car - in a single journey.