If you’ve never flown with a gun, you may feel intimidated by the process. You may be worried about getting into trouble by unwittingly breaking some new law, or you may worry that you gun will be lost or confiscated.
Fortunately, many people fly with handguns in their checked luggage every day with no issues.
Before any trip, it is a good idea to check the TSA (Transportation and Security Administration) website to see if there are any new or updated regulations pertaining to firearms on flights.
It’s also recommended to check with the airline you are flying on to make sure you will be in compliance with their regulations, too.
The TSA sets a base standard for guns on flights, but some airlines have adopted their own rules that can be more stringent.
Flying with a firearm means that you’ll have to check it in a bag. Under no circumstances can you carry the weapon onto the flight, whether it’s loaded or not.
When you check in, you must declare your gun to the airline personnel manning the luggage desk.
Your choice of words here is important. Don’t walk up to the ticket counter and say, “I have a gun,” and plop your bags down. Say something along the lines of, “I’m traveling with a firearm today,” at which point, you’ll need to show the agent the case the weapon is in.
Guns must be in hard cases to be considered eligible checked luggage. Spending money on a good padded case will pay off. If you have any doubts about the sturdiness of your case, just ask yourself if it would stand up to being shipped in the mail.
On an airplane, your firearm will be subjected to just as much abuse or maybe even more than it would if you sent it through the US Mail. Other bags will be stacked on top of it, and the case may even be dropped on the ground. You want to be sure that your case can stand up to this rough treatment.
The gate agent who helps you may not be familiar with firearms regulations on airplanes. If this turns out to be true, you may have to politely request that a manager become involved. Most managers are familiar with their airline’s firearm policy.
If you want some extra peace of mind, it can’t hurt to print off the airline weapons policy directly from their website. This can be presented to the ticket agents just in case they aren’t sure what to do with you and your cargo.
You’ll want to allow for a little extra time if you are flying with a gun, but not much. Author Mark Walters explains this in his article “Tink, Tink, Tink” on USConcealedcarry.com:
“You do want to give yourself an extra few minutes to account for the possibility that the person behind the counter may not be familiar with their own policy or TSA requirements, but the process is a simple one, and most employees are aware of the procedure. (Read more about handguns on airplanes here)”
Finally, you will want to thoroughly research the gun laws of your destination. You need to check and see if the city and state you’ll be landing and staying in has any strict regulations that cover handguns.
Airports you are flying through should also be considered in this research. This is especially true if you must retrieve your checked bags and re-check them with a different airline. At that point, you’ll technically be in possession of your gun and depending on where you are at that time, it may be illegal to have a firearm in your possession.
Flying with any deadly weapon will take some extra planning, but it’s not taboo. Make sure to do your homework, comply with local laws both at your take-off point and your landing point. That way, you can have your concealed carry weapon with you and you won’t be confronted with unexpected surprises.