With more people than ever carrying concealed and greater reciprocity of permit recognition between states, many people will likely travel with their handguns.
When traveling with your handgun, NRA-ILA has the following tips: “Firearms carried as checked baggage must be unloaded, packed in a locked hard-sided container and declared to the airline at check-in. Only the passenger may have the key or combination. Small-arms ammunition must be placed in an appropriate container: ‘securely packed in fiber, wood or metal boxes, or other packaging specifically designed to carry small amounts of ammunition.’ Under Transportation Security Administration (TSA) regulations, ammunition may be packed in the same locked container as the unloaded firearm, but airline rules may differ.”
It’s always a good idea to check with your airline to determine its specific regulations with regard to checked firearms and ammunition to avoid delays at check-in. Print out a copy of the airline’s regulations and bring it with you as you travel (not all employees are familiar with the rules). Locked handgun cases may be placed inside a checked suitcase, which can mitigate excess baggage fees with some airlines. This packing option also reduces opportunities for theft of relatively small handgun cases.
One thing to remember is to never go through security with a firearm. According to NRA-ILA, “The TSA wants to remind all travelers that attempting to bring firearms onto a plane in carry-on luggage is a serious federal violation. This is a ‘strict liability’ offense, and TSA says violators can be, and have been, convicted regardless of criminal intent, or even if they simply forgot they possessed a firearm. TSA is obliged to enforce all the existing laws within its jurisdiction and will do so vigorously.”
While that may seem obvious, TSA confiscated 697 guns at security checkpoints during the first half of 2012. “Unfortunately these sorts of occurrences are all too frequent,” said TSA spokesman Bob Burns. “Each time we find a dangerous item, the throughput is slowed down and a passenger that likely had no ill intent ends up with a citation or in some cases is even arrested. This is a friendly reminder to please leave these items at home. Just because we find a prohibited item on an individual does not mean they had bad intentions, that’s for the law enforcement officer to decide. In many cases, people simply forgot they had these items.”
So check your pockets and carry-on luggage before you go to the airport. It will save you time when traveling and, potentially, time in prison.