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.
TRAVELING WITH A FIREARM
The first step is to ensure you comply with the laws in the state(s) traveling to.
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
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.
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