Checking guns at the airport...
We've all heard the horror stories of checking guns in at the airport and even seen some of the stories posted here. Some of them are bad enough that it might make one reconsider trying it just to avoid the hassle. The thing is, when you are traveling in new territory, having a gun might save your life and due to the unknowns, it may be all you have to rely on.
Its one thing to know what areas to avoid on your home turf, its another thing entirely when you are traveling and don't have a clue. A cell-phone is a pretty common thing to carry nowadays, but if you don't know where you are at for sure, it wont do you much good if bad things happen, so its probably not a good idea to depend on it .
So, this is a story of a different type.
I spent the last several days in a beautiful city a long ways off at the request of my wife. She was invited to attend a conference as the state representative as a result of her and her students winning several state competitions of what is known as "We the People" a competition that involves knowing the functions of Government and how it works. She is the Dept. Head for the Civics/History Dept at her school where she has been teaching for over 30 years.
Since she got an all expense paid trip I elected to go with her. I also elected to take one of my Sigs, this time a Sig 225 that I dearly love for its conceal ability and accuracy. When I wear it, it hides so well that even my wife, who has a tendency to look, wont notice it most of the time.
Since we were flying with American Airlines round trip, I looked up their website and looked up the section of flying with "restricted" items. Guns were one of them. I stared to call them up and ask for advice, but figured that the website info ought to work and I decided to try it and if it didn't, I'd just have to suffer through it.
I went to Walmart and got a matching set Master padlocks, put my Sig in its original plastic container and locked each corner. I put two unloaded magazines in a leather mag case and since the rules stated that ammo must be in the original box, I found a box and put the cartridges in it. I placed all in the suitcase, put a key in my pocket and gave the other to my wife and on we went.
We couldn't use the curbside baggage check since we had a restricted item, so we had to wait in line. Our turn came up, I placed the suitcase on the weight table right there and told the clerk that I had an unloaded handgun to declare. She asked me if it was locked and unloaded and I replied that it was. She asked me to open it. In the meantime, there are 30 or so people standing in line and wondering what the heck is going on.
So, I unlocked the two locks, and she looked in it and told me to lock it back up. She handed me a white slip to sign and place on top of the case and then we zipped up the suitcase and she put placed it on the conveyor. The whole process might have taken and extra minute...maybe. So far so good. I really didn't have to rack the slide or even prove that it was unloaded, she just took my word for it. That surprised me a bit. My wife mentioned that she thought it was easy because this was Arkansas and that it might be different where we were going. I had to admit, I thought she might be right.
We spent 4 fun filled days in a nice city, I carried everywhere and didn't notice anyone that even gave me an extra glance.
Soon it was time to check back into the airport and make the trip back home. This time, we waited in line. I told the woman that I had a handgun to declare and she stated that I should have told her earlier as she had "paperwork to fill out". "How would I know to do that" I asked? She just gave me a crazy look and didn't say anything.I put the suitcase on the weigh scale and opened it up. She then asked me if it was locked and I showed her that it was. As I was removing the key from my pocket she said that she didn't need to see it, just sign here. I had to sign the same kind of ticket that I did in Arkansas that certified the gun as being unloaded. I got the impression, as did my wife, that she was a bit uncomfortable with it and just wanted to get it out of the way.
That whole endeavor might have taken a total of 2 extra minutes.
So, there ya have it. It certainly wasn't the hassle that I expected or read about many times. I suppose the process has been refined enough that its pretty much cut and dried. We had to layover in Dallas for a couple of hours, and the luggage was automatically forwarded to our next flight. Two checks were done. One at the start, and one at the finish. All went without a hitch.
If you are flying, you owe to yourself and your family to bring your carry gun. Make sure that you have reciprocity and that it is legal to go armed there and know the laws of the state you are in.
You may find that its not the big hassle that you may have thought it was.