Traveling with a Firearm: Everything you need to know to fly with a gun

Traveling with a Firearm: Everything you need to know to fly with a gun

There is always a lot of questions when it comes to flying with a firearm and how to ensure compliance when doing so. Below is the all of the information you will need in order to travel with a firearm, and successfully check a gun within TSA’s rules and regulations.

As per the TSA, you are allowed to travel with unloaded firearms as long as they are in a locked hard-sided container and included in a checked bag. The container must be inaccessible when locked, meaning it cannot be easily pried opened. Contact the TSA Contact Center with any questions. You may not carry on a firearm, or any part of a firearm, or ammunition. The hard case that I use is featured in the link below; I prefer the combo lock so I do not have to maintain a key, with the possibility of losing it.

Stack-On PC-95C Portable Case with Combination Lock, Black

Traveling with a Firearm

The first step is to ensure you comply with the laws in the state(s) traveling to.  Concealed Carry Laws by State – LaSorsa & Associates – Executive Protection – Training – Consulting – Investigations

Then ensure the firearm is packed correctly, unloaded and locked in a hard case which is in a bag that is going to be checked, not carried on. (Passenger retains the key or combo) Ensure that you declare the firearm at the ticket counter as soon as you present the bag. I usually do this by showing my concealed carry permit along with my driver’s license and say that “it is in the checked bag”; this is to eliminate verbalizing that I have a gun in my bag in front of everyone who may be on my flight. Correctly complete the firearm declaration card, signing that the firearm is unloaded and place in the bag. Tip: I keep a large rubber-band around my hard case (shown/linked above so I can affix the card to the case as to avoid it getting lost in the bag) Additionally, you should lock the checked bag with a TSA approved lock. Read the regulations here: USC, Title 18, Part 1, Chapter 44 49 CFR 1540.5

Travel Tips Video: Traveling with Firearms

Note: If a ticket counter agent requests you to show them the firearm is unloaded – request a manager or TSA agent as it is unlawful to handle a firearm in an airport – this is why a chamber flag or gun lock is recommended as it nullifies the need to handle the weapon. The ticket counter agents may misinterpret the rules on ‘verifying the weapon is unloaded.’ It is the passenger’s responsibility to ensure the weapon is unloaded.

TASER Laws and Restrictions by State

TASER Laws and Restrictions by State

Executive Protection / Bodyguard Training Program
Protective Fundamentals, Medical Response, Evasive Driving, Firearms/Sims
Hotel, most meals and all materials are included

Traveling with Ammunition

Ammunition is also prohibited in carry-on baggage and must be securely packed in boxes or other packagings specifically designed to carry small amounts of ammunition and placed in a checked bag. Firearm magazines must be securely boxed or included within a hard-sided case containing an unloaded firearm. I would highly recommend unloading the magazine as well – this reduces the chance of trouble if you get a TSA agent who may misinterpret what is a part of the firearms vs a magazine. Airlines dictate the amount of ammunition that can be included in your checked bag. The most common amount is a maximum of 11 pounds (5 kgs) per container or customer, such as American Airlines regulations say, but you should check with your airline.

tsa firearm rules

The image above was when I was packing up for the executive protection training program in Miami last November, and yes that is a week’s worth of clothes in an assault pack. The unloaded pistol was put into a hard case with the magazine. The ammunition was properly cased but not included in the same hard case as the firearm in this instance. I highly recommend a small ammo case, like the MTM Case Gard Ammo Wallet. Referencing the featured image at the top: No, the multi tool does not need to go in the lock box but I have had several go ‘missing’ over the past couple of years and they seem to leave it alone if put in the lock box. I also use a chamber flag which ensures the weapon is unloaded and requires no manipulation to ensure it is unloaded. Note: TSA regs printed out and folded in the holster – which is also highly recommended to do.

MTM 18 Rounds 44 Cal Case-Gard Ammo Wallet (Clear Smoke)

Retrieving Your Firearm Bag

Different airlines and airports have different protocols on how they mark your bag once it is declared to have a firearm. Take notice of how it is done upon check-in and ask if unsure. Also, different airlines and airports have different protocols on how you retrieve your bag upon arrival. Sometimes it is as normal, and most of the time you will be required to show ID to pick up your bag in a designated area. Ask an attendant if you are not sure about that specific airline or airport’s procedures.

TSA Regs Link: https://www.tsa.gov/travel/transporting-firearms-and-ammunition

Transporting Firearms and Ammunition

duty to inform ccw

Joseph M. LaSorsa, CPP® is currently employed as a senior partner managing and conducting: Protective Operations Training Courses, Executive Protection & Bodyguard Services, Risk Management Consultations & Seminars, Workplace Violence Prevention Seminars & Intervention Services, Security Consultations & Seminars, Private Investigations and Technical Surveillance Counter-Measures with LaSorsa & Associates – an International Protection, Investigations & Consulting Firm.

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