August 2015

August 2015 
Blog of Education

Helpful Tips for Flying with Firearms

August 2015 Blog of Education Firearms Travel

You never know when you’ll need it. This is my general rationale for traveling with a pistol/revolver. Depending where you travel, it makes common sense to be prepared for 2 or 4 legged threats. Flying with a firearm is not new and not impossible. In fact, once you do it, you will realize how easy the process is. However, there are some hang ups not commonly found in internet searches. Here are some helpful tips from my own experiences for my 2nd Amendment embracing readers.

Disclaimer! The lawyers out there probably would advise me to say the following. Check ALL the laws regarding traveling with a firearm including the Firearms Owner’s Protection Act and the laws where you are traveling from and to. In general, as long as you are making a NON-STOP trip (no overnights), you can travel legally through a state with a firearm unloaded and locked in an inaccessible location (trunk) to the driver. Here is the official link to TSA’s page on travel with Firearms and Ammuntion. CLICK HERE.

1. Do Your Research Find out what the specific airline regulations are regarding flying with firearms as each company may vary. Do this before each flight as regulations can change over time.
2. Contact the Authorities E-mail the State Police where you are flying out of and where you are flying to regarding legal travel in their state with an unloaded and locked firearm. You will receive an E-mail that could be personalized or one that seems to be a form reply stating sections of federal or state law. Print out these replies and keep them with you. Put them in a folder and or protective sleeve (you’ll find out why soon, keep reading.)
3. Have a Contact Name In your communication with the authorities, keep track of who you speak to. You can kindly ask for the officer/trooper’s name and badge number and should. I recently traveled through JFK airport in the heart of NYC with a Sig P220 pistol and had no issues what-so-ever. When I spoke with the Port Authority Officer, I mentioned the conversation with the Officer I spoke with on the phone (Thank you for your assistance Officer Quigley) and instantly the Port Authority officer knew I had done my research and the check out process was extremely painless.

Travel with Firearms documentation

Keep your paperwork handy and be prepared to present it if requested

4. Copy Your Permits In addition to having your official permits on you, keep print outs of the front face and back of each with your paperwork. Put these in a folder and protective sleeve. Trust me, as a professional educator, there is something to be said about having all your documents “protected” in plastic. It gives the appearance you are serious which you should be. Look the way you want to be treated.
5. Proof of Purchase/Ownership This step may seem extreme but I’ve heard of travelers being asked for it. You may have the original forms from when the firearm was purchased, when the federal background check was done or when it was added to your permit. Whatever you have, bring it with you to show YOU are the owner of the firearm being transported. Think about what questions you could be asked and be prepared for them.

Pelican travel case for handgun

A good locking case and real locks shows you mean business. No case is impenetrable though.

6. Get a Good Case with Real Locks How much is your firearm worth? What message is sent to authorities when you show them a cheap case in a suitcase? Show your respect for safety and the law by purchasing a quality travel case. I prefer Pelican Brand cases and Master Locks. They’re both solidly made and not easy to open in the short term. With enough time and resources, any case can be opened but for travel inside your suitcase, these are fine. Your case should be large enough to carry your firearm BROKEN DOWN AND LOCKED. You may want to also purchase a small locking box for your ammunition, folding knife and high-powered pocket light too.

Travel with Ammunition

Ammunition can be carried but it must be in a container that keeps each round separate like this plastic carrier

7. Check the Legality of Your Ammunition It sounds crazy but there are some restrictions on ammunition in certain states. A single hollowpoint round is a felony charge in New Jersey and each additional round is an additional charge. If you have any lingering doubts, carry full-metal jacket ball ammunition. Just be aware of the penetration characteristics of these rounds. DO NOT PACK YOUR AMMUNITION IN THE SAME LOCKED CASE! You can carry it in the same locked luggage though in a container meant to keep each round separate. Some airlines will put pound limitations on what you can carry. If you are traveling to a shooting event, it might be easier to purchase ammunition once you get there.
8. Check the Legality of Your Magazines The standard capacity of my Glock 21 magazines (13 rounds) and Glock 17 magazines (17 rounds) are illegal in NY state under the SAFE act. You want to make sure you are legal in every aspect and from all angles. Do you have a “travel gun?” Think about the firearm you can carry legally on your permit and travel with it without breaking any laws. As much as I don’t like being legislated into carrying less than what I want, I won’t break the law and do not advise you to either.
9. Present Yourself as Accommodating and Respectful Assuming you’ve done all your research and have packed your firearm broken down and locked, all that is left is to step in line and declare your firearm. Dress professionally when you travel and declare your “firearm”, not your “gun” or “weapon”. Remember your manners and address everyone as “sir”, “ma’am” or “miss” as appropriate. If required to speak to a police officer, address them as “Officer” or “Trooper”. In an age where the media is making the relationship between police and citizens an “us vs. them” dynamic, disarm the scenario with a smile and “good morning/afternoon/evening officer” greeting. Courtesy goes a lot farther than “hands up don’t shoot” nonsense. Make their job easier and your interaction will be more favorable.

Travel with firearms

Your ammunition, folding knives and high-powered flashlight can be carried in a separate small locking box

10. Retain Your Keys You may be required to open your case to put an “unloaded firearms declaration” inside. If asked to open your case, YOU ALONE should do it and NEVER relinquish control of your keys to anyone. Handing over your keys to an airport official is against the law. Remember this, trust me.

Flying with a firearm in your checked baggage is easy as long as you follow the rules. Having the peace of mind you have a defensive tool in an unknown location is worth the additional time in the checked baggage line. Just make sure to follow these steps each time you fly along with the basic firearms safety rules observed all the time.

Special thanks to Guro Clint and Lt. Mike for their help with my recent travel questions. You guys are incredible resources!