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Mac's Guide to Flying with a Firearm:

Discussion in 'The SHOT ShowCase' started by MacG22, Mar 27, 2010.

  1. MacG22

    MacG22 CLM

    Feb 28, 2008
    Caught this a little late. I really don't know what to do about it. Never thought it to be much of a problem.

    Let me know how it goes for you and what you did.
  2. IIRC lithium batteries are OK in the device in your carry on. Verboten in checked bags. will try too get a cite however.

  3. From TSA
  4. Palouse

    Palouse The Resistance Lifetime Member

    Feb 27, 2006
    Washington State
    I wish I'd seen this prior to my flight to TN this last June. I was so nervous I almost wet myself. My wife was dead set against me taking the pistol in the first place, and we had our three, young kids with us. She was sure I was going to spend time in Walla Walla at worst or miss our flight at best.

    We flew on Frontier, and no Frontier agent ever looked at my pistol. Flying out of Spokane, though, a TSA agent escorted me to a small room, inspected the pistol, packed the bag, and I was on my way. I did not have ammunition with me.

    That having gone so well, I wasn't nearly as nervous at Nashville, but my brother had driven us to the airport, and I made him wait with us until I knew everything was OK. However, I waited probably 45 minutes for a TSA agent to escort me to a little room. I kept waiting and waiting for a TSA agent to show up and inspect my pistol, but no one ever did. I finally went to ask about my pistol. The agents were backed up dealing with other customers, so I got the attention of a TSA agent. When I asked about the inspection, he said they only inspect if they see anything funny in the scan and that my bag was already headed for the plane.

    So other than the ulcer and the 45 minute wait, it was pretty uneventful.
  5. ayz


    Dec 31, 2009
    anyone every get told they can't use the stock glock cases? i'm flying from ATL to Chicago and am not sure if i should run out and get a pelican case, or just save the money and a large padlock on the handle + the glock wire lock should suffice
  6. From TSA web site
    The Glock case meets these criteria. Take a copy of the TSA regs with you. I think Mac recommended this in his post.
  7. Landman

    Landman Member

    Jan 27, 2007
    I have used one of the Glock Cases that locks without a problem. They look just like the regular Glock case except have a locking mechanism in it. I buy them from Glockmeister.
  8. Blacknite29


    Aug 28, 2007
    Tagged for infomation
  9. takeanumbr


    Mar 14, 2010
    Flyover Country
    Just wanted to give my recent flying exprience out of Will Rogers World Airport OKC flying Frontier Airlines, then returning from Denver International Airport flying United Airlines.
    I packed my pistol per Mac's guide, using a Gun Vault Nano case secured by the cable tied through the suitcase's interior portion of the handle. The suitcase was a hardsided Samsonite, purchased specifically for carrying my pistol. It featured a mounted TSA lock on the outside of the suitcase.

    At the start of my trip, I went directly to the Will Rogers ticket counter, I used Mac's declaration statement just as he wrote it, and before I could get it all out, the ticket counter babe interupted me, saying," I'm not going to inspect it! It is unloaded isn't it?" In which I responded yes. She had me sign a red tag declaring it was unloaded, and was instructed to put insided the suitcase. So Will Rogers went smooth as a babies butt.

    On my return flight leaving DIA, I packed identical, said the identical statement, and before I could get my entire speil out, was interupted with,"TSA escort!" Meaning, a TSA employee had to escort me to another room with a screener machine and several TSA employees, where my luggage was screened with the machine but not opened, asked me if it the pistol was in a hardsided, locked case, then was given the "I'm finished" look from TSA, and the TSA escort took my suitcase back to United, and directed me to the TSA passenger screening area.

    Soooo, wasn't a bad experience like I had imagined in my mind leading up to the flight. I will fly with my firearm without to much concern in the future.

    I want to thank this forum, and especially this post for an accurate guide for firearm travel.
  10. Great report. Mac nailed it. I think many folks think it's complicated. pretty easy if you follow the rules. Glad your trip was uneventful
  11. Bill Lumberg

    Bill Lumberg BTF Inventor

    Jun 14, 2002
    A stock glock case and stock glock cable lock are all you need.

  12. steveksux

    steveksux Massive Member

    Jul 12, 2007
    Any advice if you have a connection/layover in NYC? Are you out of luck? Do their ammo restrictions (HP, mag capacity) affect you, or are you covered by fed laws regarding travel through where you're legal at the endpoints?

    Heard rumors of ugly stuff in NYC when people get layovers, or flight problems keep them stranded overnight...

  13. GoingQuiet

    GoingQuiet FFL/SOT

    Jun 10, 2010
    Melbourne, FL
    Hi Mac, great post. I've flown with firearms without the regs printed and everyone was friendly and co-operative. Even in California of all places! Nobody has ever asked me to open the bag and inspect however. It was declare, sign and I was on my way.

    Also, I have to toot my own horn here. I own a submachinegun and it is rather tough to travel with submachineguns as there are a lack of TSA legal hard cases for them. One of my new product lines features a hard case with custom cut foam. If you are a frequent flyer with firearm - this might interest you.

    Here's my case.


    I'm going to be doing them custom - you can have your gun, slots for mags, two guns, cutouts for ammo boxes, etc - all in hard foam cut on an CNC router.
  14. DO NOT i repeat DO NOT take possession of your suitcase containing the firearm during your layover. Make arrangements with the airline to secure it. A court case in the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals denied the appeal of a traveler found guilt of weapons possession in NJ because the defendant "had access " to the luggage when he went to a hotel for an unscheduled layover and therefore could not claim FOPA protection The court denied the appeal only on the grounds of his "having access" to the firearm in violation of FOPA. I read from this is that it's OK to travel in NY with a firearm but if you layover don't "have access" to the firearm. I'd pack overnight clothes and put them in your carry on and make arrangements with the airline to secure your luggage overnight.

    Link to appeal:
  15. MacG22

    MacG22 CLM

    Feb 28, 2008
    That is an excellent read, in terms of available information. And it does directly refute (at least in part) what the BATF agent communicated to me on the phone. Granted, part of their comments to were recent, and this case began quite a while ago. But it's still a VERY compelling read. Out of the public court documents for that case, referenced by the link above, it states:

    "Although we conclude that Revell fell outside of § 926A’s protection during his stay in New Jersey, we recognize that he had been placed in a difficult predicament through no fault of his own. However, Section 926 clearly requires the traveler to part ways with his weapon and ammunition during travel; it does not address this type of interrupted journey or what the traveler is to do in this situation. Stranded gun owners like Revell have the option of going to law enforcement representatives at an airport or to airport personnel before they retrieve their luggage. The careful owner will do so and explain his situation, requesting that his firearm and ammunition be held for him overnight.18 While this no doubt adds to the inconvenience imposed upon the unfortunate traveler when his transportation plans go awry, it offers a reasonable means for a responsible gun owner to maintain the protection of Section 926 and prevent unexpected exposure to state and local gun regulations.
  16. Mac, I'm guessing BATFE agents don't keep up with case law. Although a ruling in the 3rd circuit only affects courts in that circuit, many Federal courts are loathe to issue differing opinions in similar cases. NJ and NY seem to be the most unfriendly to gun owners even when they try to comply. Because of their aggressive actions and the ruling from the 3rd circuit, I would recommend that anyone stuck in a city during a layover, accidental or not, store their weapon in compliance with this ruling. I have not had to do this but I'm guessing either the airline or perhaps a Skycap or someone else can make arrangements for overnight storage

    Seems like an easy way to avoid a huge and expensive hassle.
  17. iRenegade


    Jan 14, 2009
    How were people's experiences in JFK and LaGuardia? And with what airlines. I've never flown anywhere with my firearm, but am not so hesitant after reading this thread. My main concern is having the gun stolen from my luggage.
  18. From my reading NYC is not much better than NJ in aggressive enforcement. If you fly into NYC or NJ, better off leaving your bag at the airport if laying over. Under no circumstances would I stay in either state while in possession of a firearm

    As has been recommended, cable lock your pistol case inside your suitcase. Minimizes the chance of theft
  19. MacG22

    MacG22 CLM

    Feb 28, 2008
    I agree Swinokur. Wise gun owners will stay within the bounds of recent caselaw wherever possible, no matter how "unjust" some may feel it is.

    I've flown through NY/NJ plenty and never had an issue, but I've never missed a connection or anything.

    I've done a bit of reading and calling this morning to research what I would do in this situation, based upon this case, specifically in the NY/NJ airport system. Based upon that case, here's how I will respond when flying through there and facing an unexpected layover. Your mileage may vary, but this is what I'll do:

    1. I always fly with the case locked and locked into the spine of the bag as shown in this thread. For me, that's must, but even moreso if you're flying through a city where, in the event of a disruption, you should not take control of your bag.

    2. As soon as I find out that that my flight is delayed, and before I take control of my bag, I'll find out if there is overnight storage for bags. If so, I'll do what needs to be done to secure it the storage, either with the airline themselves or etc.

    3. I'll notify an officer (preferably TSA but second best would be NY/NJ PA) of the problem I'm facing, the laws I am bound by (with copies of the firearm law that says I can trasport to where I'm going and etc), and ask if the officer would transport the bag for me to storage. I think showing sensitivity to not "taking possession", even if you are entitled to in the airport, is good thing here. Plus, you have a formal witness that you didn't take the bag out of the airport, but instead left it in storage. Based upon the reasoning in the case, this should satisfy the "reasonable" test of what you should do to not take possession.

    4. I would then record the officer's name, etc, and make some sort of formal log of when my flight was canceled, where the bag was stored, and who assisted me at the airport (including employees of the airline).

    5. Then I'm done. Based upon my calls today to both airports, a conversation with TSA, and a followup call placed to NY BATFE, they all commented in my conversations with them that this would be more than sufficient to satisfy an "avoiding all appearances of evil" test according to their responsibilities and how they interact with the law.

    Keep in mind your backup plan. If your destination isn't far, or if you can get a flight out of a new airport and DON'T want to stay in NYC for a night, then rent a car, put the back in the trunk, and drive out of the state to a place that recognizes your permit or etc. Plus, the laws were really written most for people driving through a place.

    By the way, I'm not very intimidated by this new set of protocols for myself. I've flown through NY/NJ dozens of times and never had a problem. And if it did occur, these new protocols will likely cost me a bit of time but probably not much more, especially if you are assisted by TSA (who according to my conversation with them today would likely be more than willing to take and store the bag for you at the airport).

    And the worst of the worst case? Just stay in the airport that night. It's uncomfortable, but people do it all the time. And a minor inconvenience when you consider what it's worth to be able to defend yourself while you travel.
  20. Mac, my concern is with neither TSA or BATFE. IMO It's the local police who are the issue here. They are the ones most likely to detain or arrest you. I think it would be prudent to check with The Port Authority Police and NYPD to get their opinion. Maybe even the state guys as well.

    My plan is to never ever fly through or visit NY or NJ. I can spend my money elsewhere. Luckily work travel doesn't take me there.