Transportation Safety Administration: Air Travel and Firearms

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    Say you've got a big vacation coming up but you don't want to leave your Ruger at home. You do your research on local gun laws in the area to where you'll be traveling and you've checked to see if your concealed carry permit will be honored. All of your bases are covered and everything has checked out as it should. Your travel plans are finalized and you're ready to go, but how is your gun going to get there?

    In a day and age where the threat of terrorism is very real, traveling with firearms has become a sensitive matter. It is not as easy as just tossing your gun in your luggage and hopping on a plane. Instead, you must take specific steps to secure your firearm as well as any ammunition you might be carrying. To best answer exactly how this should be done is the Transportation Safety Administration, or the TSA.

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    Photo: Word from the Well

    The TSA has a list of requirements for gun travel, some of which may not have even crossed your mind. For example, what constitutes a weapon in the eyes of the TSA may differ from your own opinion. While you might consider a firearm to be a whole and complete, usable gun, the TSA defines a firearm on their website as follows:

    • Any weapon (including a starter gun) which will, or is designed to, or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive.
    • The frame or receiver of any such weapon.
    • Any firearm muffler or firearm silencer.
    • Any destructive device.

    It is interpretations and definitions such as these that can complicate traveling with a firearm. Since the possibility of different ideas does exist, it is wise to brush up on what is expected of you and your firearm when you arrive at the airport. Knowing that you must declare that firearm and have it unloaded and locked securely in a hard-sided case is merely the tip of the iceberg. Even realistic replicas must be checked and black powder or percussion caps used with black-powder are prohibited entirely. In the event that you are law enforcement, you can expect a different set of rules to apply, but as a general rule, anyone traveling with a firearm in tow needs to be aware of what is expected throughout the process.

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    Photo: Guns and Ammo

    If a weapon is not properly declared or packed in accordance with TSA policies, it still gets to travel but instead of in the aircraft it goes into the hands of law enforcement, which is likely not a trip you wish to have your Ruger make. This is especially troubling because it opens up the possibility that you will be charged and/or fined for such actions in accordance with applicable laws. Even if it is an innocent mistake, the repercussions are serious, thus an awareness of current TSA rules and regulations is essential for all gun owners who travel. Additionally, do some research on your airline of choice as some have a firearm (total number) as well as ammo limit (weight).

    Do you travel regularly with a firearm? Have you been faced with problems during the process from which others can learn and make the process more streamlined? Let us know in the comments.

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