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People take firearms along on a flight for various personal reasons. If you have ever attempted boarding a plane with a gun in your possession, then you know how fragile of a situation it can be. All it takes is one disregard for TSA rules and you win yourself an exclusive all expense paid trip to the interrogation room. Being interrogated for carrying a gun wrongly can be really embarrassing. Most people will give you the “terrorist look” while some paranoid passengers will ask to change seats in the plane. It’s all part of the edgy feeling people get when they see you with a gun. Flying with a gun is risky especially if you don’t follow the TSA rules guiding transportation of, and with firearms and ammunition.

flying with a gun

Contrary to popular beliefs, you don’t need to wear “the black or blue” uniform or be a security detail to travel with a firearm. All you need is to unload the firearm, take along your license or permit to carry, place your firearm in a locked hard-sided container as checked baggage and follow every other TSA rule guiding transportation of and with firearms and ammunition. Also, you need to consult the laws guiding firearm transportation and use in the city or country you are headed. These laws vary by local, state and International governments. For instance, the state of California allows only individuals aged 21 or older to carry guns while in Texas, you are allowed to carry a rifle once you are 18. Traveling with a rifle in California at age 20 will be considered illegal.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) rules guiding transportation with firearms and ammunition

The TSA has taken some extra steps to ensure compliance with the following regulations. If you fail to obey any of the rules below, you may need to put a call through to your bank and get comfortable in your community service or county jail uniform if you are caught.

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  • Declare each firearm each time you present it for transport as checked baggage. You may also need to answer a few basic questions and provide some documents while the check is going on.
  • Firearms must be unloaded and locked in a hard-sided box and transported as checked-baggage only. The passenger alone should keep the key to open the firearm box unless a TSA personnel requests the key to ensure compliance with TSA regulations. It is advised to use hard-sided cases with softer interior to house your firearm and ammunition.  The soft interior prevents your firearm and ammo from damage. Any of the RPNB gun safe boxes or Universal hard carrying case is suitable. Just be sure they can be used with locks.
  • Firearm parts, including magazines, clips, bolts and firing pins, are to be transported in a different locked container  as checked baggage only. This rule applies to both loaded and empty ammo. Some airlines like the “United airlines” and “California Southwest airlines” allow ammunition and magazines to be kept in the same box as your firearm but the ammo shouldn’t be in the firearm. Other airlines like “Jet-blue airline” strictly advise against this. Their firearm policy guide against using the same box for ammo and firearm so it is advisable to consult the firearm policy of whichever airline you would be be boarding.
  • Rifle scopes are permitted to be in carry-on and checked baggage.
  • Replica firearms, including toys, paintball guns and pseudo firearm may all be transported in checked-baggage only. Pseudo firearms look exacly the same as real firearms. The only difference obviously is that they can’t be fired. However, these fakes can still be used to threaten passengers.
  • Small arms, ammo, and shotgun shells must be packaged in a fiber (such as cardboard), wood, plastic or metal box specifically designed to carry ammunition and should be declared to your airline. The original box your ammo came in will be very much suited for this. Most airlines such as “the jetblue airline” and the “New York united airline” state that each checked passenger is allowed to carry ammo that doesn’t exceed 11 pounds.
  • Inform the airline representative at the checked-baggage counter that you are carrying firearms. Airlines usually advice passengers carrying arms to declare the firearms before they get to the counter. This part of your travel plans might not be done online depending on the airline you are using.
  • Always consult the safety regulations of your airline on firearm transport to prevent mishaps. Different airlines have diverse rules and most airlines specify on some TSA rules too.
  • Firearms and ammunition are prohibited in carry-on bags. This is generally a rule for every airline. Firearms are only allowed in hard-sided boxes with locks.
  • Always ask for the declaration card. The airline will give you a declaration card which must contain your name and contact information. This lets them know you already declared the firearm. Put the card in the box with your firearm. The TSA personnel will process it and the box goes unders the aircraft so it is impossible to access during the flight.
  • The amount of firearm that can be put in a hard case differs according to airline. The “California south west airline” allows for multiple firearms inside the same box as long as it fits perfectly. The “New york  united airline” only allows a maximum of 5 firearms per case.
  • Virtually all airline do not allow persons under the age of 18 to travel with a firearm.
  • Do not transport firearms or ammo to and from black listed areas. For instance,The United airlinedoes not accept firearms from countries like Nigeria, palau, Qatar, cuba, Bahrain and other black listed states or countries.

Always ensure to follow proper guidelines and you should have a hitch-free flight.

Rell is a network engineer with over 10 years of experience in IT management and network optimization. He has a passion for firearms and previously worked with the US military in California, where he gained knowledge and experience in the gun world. Rell is a firearm instructor and range safety officer who runs a website for gun enthusiasts, where he provides information on gun culture, safety, and maintenance.

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