Preview – Air Travel With Guns
Guidelines For a Hassle-Free Flight
Illustrations by Ced Nocon
Flying with guns is easier and more hassle free than most people suspect, so please take a moment to review this safety card before we take off. This cabin crew regularly flies with guns in their luggage when traveling around the country. In the past year we’ve flown with guns to California, Idaho, Missouri, New Mexico, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. On each of these trips, the process was similar and went off without a hitch. All it takes is following a few TSA and airline rules. Please comply with all lighted signs and crew member instructions and everything will go just fine.
Before packing your firearms, you must unload all ammunition. Loaded guns, like smoking, are not allowed on any flight. Tampering with or destroying the bathroom smoke detector might result in a fine, but schlepping a loaded gat onto an aircraft is a sure-fire way to make a new cell mate. Make sure to chamber check each firearm and to remove ammo from any caddies or sidesaddles that you may have.
When traveling with guns by airplane, it’s necessary to store all firearms in a hard-sided container. A rigid plastic or metal container is typical. Hard cases can range from something small, like a briefcase, to something large, like a golf bag container. Popular brands include Pelican, Storm, and Starlight — which we’ve found to work well.
These cases are usually sold with foam padding on the inside but can be ordered without, saving a few bucks. Instead of using this foam, a double gun bag usually fits inside and can serve as padding during transit and as a carry bag once you’ve arrived at your destination. If a more discreet look is preferred, hard cases for musical instruments or other everyday equipment also works. To complete the disguise, consider including a pair of small black glasses and a fixed speed bike. When purchasing a container, be sure to consider the weight, as most airlines will tack on an extra fee if the luggage is more than 50 pounds.
Lock it up
Any hard-sided containers used for storing firearms during a flight must be capable of being locked. This means that the container “completely secures the firearm from being accessed” — no one should be able pull the container open without having to undo the locks, including the stalwart defenders of liberty at the TSA.
TSA locks are acceptable, but padlocks and combination locks are also OK and preferable.
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