The TSA and airlines have many rules and regulations when it comes to what you can and can’t bring aboard a plane. Don’t even attempt to bring a full-sized tube of toothpaste in your carry-on, it is bound to be thrown away.
Whether you are traveling with your family or for business, you may want to bring a firearm with you. But what if you are traveling by plane? Now if you are trying to concealed carry it on the plane with you, they won’t even allow that tube of toothpaste so you are out of luck trying to carry a firearm on. But if you wanted to check it, that is a whole nother story.
So, to answer the question we posed as the title of this whole article, can you travel by plane with a gun? Yes, but there are some things you need to know before you attempt to put a loaded gun in your checked baggage.
TSA Rules For Traveling With Firearms And Ammunition
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) enforces rules set in place by the federal government regarding flying with a firearm. These can be found on the TSA’s website, but we are going to cover a few of the main things you need to know.
- First and foremost, firearms are not permitted to be carried on. They must be checked-in and securely locked inside a hard-sided container, where only you have the key.
- When you arrive at the airport you have to inform the desk that you have a firearm. This is called declaring your firearm.
- The gun must be unloaded and any magazines must be securely boxed or placed inside the container with your firearm.
- Small arms ammo must be packaged in a fiber container (wood, plastic, cardboard, etc.) and also must be checked-in and declared to the airline.
- Ammo can be placed in the case with your firearm and can be stored in a magazine if it is completely enclosed.
- Each airline may have additional limitations in regards to the size and amount of guns and ammo you can carry. There may also be fees put in place by the airline.
If you are law enforcement different rules may apply to you.
Consider Individual State Rules
If you are traveling by plane you most likely aren’t staying in the same state, unless you are in California then you might want to fly from one end to the other. Each state has different rules and regulations for firearms and concealed carry. If you are traveling to a different state you will want to consider these rules when selecting what firearms you travel with.
If you plan to conceal carry in the state you are traveling to you will want to check the reciprocity of your concealed carry permit and consider any restrictions the state has in place. Some states may have capacity restrictions so you will want to make sure your gun meets those restrictions.
In general, it is best to just check the rules and regulations for any state you will be traveling to. Whether that is for conceal carry or just restrictions on driving with a firearm in the vehicle.
Make Sure You Have An Appropriate Storage Case
There are a few requirements for your storage case and few things you may want to consider when purchasing one.
First, it needs to be hard sided. Most hard sided cases will have a foam insert to help keep anything you place inside secure and protected. If you wanted to place your firearm in a soft sided case and place that inside the hard case you could, but the main container needs to be hard sided.
The case must have a lock. It can be a combination lock or keyed, but only you need to have the key/code. While you may be allowed to use a TSA style lock it is not advised because anyone with the TSA key can open your storage case.
When you fly your ears probably pop at some point because of the change in cabin pressure. This pressure can affect your gun and any accessories you have with it. You may want to consider a case with a pressure release valve to reduce any potential affects the cabin pressure could have on your firearm.
Amazon has a lot of great options for approved storage cases of various sizes and locking methods. You may find a case that meets your needs here.
There May Be A Processing Time
When you are going on a trip and are traveling by plane you probably calculate out what time you need to arrive at the airport. You will probably consider what time you board, going through security, checking any bags, parking if you are not having anyone drop you off, etc.
If you are traveling with firearms you may want to add additional time when you are doing your calculations.
When you arrive at the airport you will need to declare your firearm and any ammo which means you will need to fill out a form at the desk and they may ask to check your case before they send it back for inspection and to be loaded on the plane. When you lock the case before the attendant takes it, make sure you are the only person who has a key. That key should stay with you, not in a checked bag, throughout your flight.
This declaration process must be done any time you change airlines as well. So, if you are traveling with a firearm make sure you accommodate for the processing time of declaring your weapon.
There Could Be Size Restrictions When Traveling
In this case size might matter. While TSA does not have restrictions on the size of the firearm you are transporting the airline you are traveling with might. If you are only transporting a Glock 19X or Ruger LCP you probably won’t have any issues, but an AR-15 you might have issues with.
The same goes for ammo. TSA does not have any limitations on the amount of ammo you can carry, but the airline you are traveling with might. For example, American Airlines states you can only carry up to 11 pounds of ammo with you.
Keep in mind if you are traveling internationally other countries have different gun policies than the United States, it may not be wise to even attempt to travel with a weapon.
Let’s review, the TSA sets regulations on traveling with a firearm and ammo. It will need to be unloaded and in a locked, hard sided container. If you are traveling to a different state make sure to review their gun policy and reciprocity agreement if you want to concealed carry. You may need to adjust for additional processing time when you arrive at the airport. And most importantly check with the airline you are traveling with as well because they may have additional restrictions or fees associated with transporting a firearm.
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