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GUNS Magazine September 2010 - Page 24
• MASSAD AYOOB • FLYiNG WiTH HaNDGUNS It isn’t a big problem, but there are some trickbags to avoid. t reader request (Yes, the editor listens to those!) we need to A talk about flying with firearms. Unless you’re a Federal law enforcement agent or another LEO who has (a) taken the Flying Armed Course and (b) gone through the hoops currently required to be armed aboard the aircraft, we’re talking about unloaded guns in checked baggage. The TSA website (www.tsa. luggage ends up in a common pickup gov) is your friend. Don’t just read area where anyone can snag it and it, download it and have a printed walk away. You definitely want the hardcopy with you at the ticket counter. pistol case to go inside a suitcase. Do the same with the specific airline’s The “inner case” needs to be rules on the matter: they’re accessible lockable. TSA approved locks are on the ’net. If a counter person says pathetic, but “it’s the rules.” Some something like, “Sir, the ‘Firearms’ tag counter folks won’t bother making goes on the outside of the suitcase,” you lock it, but some will, and won’t you want to be able to politely say, “I let ’em fly without ’em. The keys had heard that too, until your airline for those TSA locks are tiny: I put and TSA gave me these.” It tends to be them in my wallet, so they won’t get a very decisive argument-ender. You pulled out of a pocket and drop to want to know Federal Air Regulation the terminal floor unnoticed when I 108.11 better than anyone behind the reach for change at the newsstand or counter. go through security. What you don’t want I know folks who’ve to do or say is anything flown with approved gun that can be interpreted cases inside soft outer as “Nyah, nyah: I know luggage, but a strict your job better than reading of the regs tells me you do.” Airline ticket what they want are hardcounter personnel are shell suitcases enclosing among the very few the pistol case inside, people in America who and the outer case has to take more crap from the lock too. I would avoid public than cops, and Mas has good luck fancy Zero-Halliburton antagonizing people who transporting his ammo type hardshell luggage: have the power to send in factory packaging, in it’s wonderful stuff, but your luggage to Patagonia compliance with FAA and dirtbags associate it with is not a good way to win TSA regs. Rubber bands keep expensive contents, and it the argument in the long the boxes from opening and may be more likely to grow term. legs if a bad guy spots it spilling inside suitcase, yet Your handguns should allow TSA agents to inspect on the carousel before you be unloaded and in a them easily. do. The lower-key Delsey hard-shell case that fits brand is an excellent choice. within the suitcase. If you My collection of plain but check just the gun case, it can require sturdy hardshell Samsonite suitcases that red or orange firearms sticker have served me well. affixed to the outside. Its purpose is TSA limits ammunition to 11 to reassure baggage handlers that, pounds per passenger (not per when they pick up what is obviously a suitcase). Weigh before you go: a gun case, the firearm therein has been strict airport will, if you don’t. The confirmed unloaded. However, the ammo must be in factory packaging label is also what we call a “Steal Me” or equivalent and have a place in tag, since in most domestic airports the box for each cartridge, not loose Vanguard Guardforce hardshell gun case with twin TSA-approved locks will house this Gen 4 Glock 17 on its flight in the baggage hold. Some factory gun boxes are set up for TSA locks, like this XD Gear container factory provided with this Springfield Armory XD(M). “bulk pack.” Some interpret the regs to allow ammo to be in magazines or speedloaders. I’ve found some airlines forbid that, and to be on the safe side, I put each round in its space in a factory box. I put heavy duty rubber bands around them endwise to keep them from spilling during handling: TSA folks sometimes want to inspect the ammo cartridge by cartridge in my experience, so tape is less satisfactory for this purpose. If I’m going to a match, a shooting class or someplace else requiring ammo in quantity, I’ll ship it ahead (UPS, with the box(es) marked ORM-D as required), or arrange to purchase it on-site. Plan carefully: you’ll have the same issues to deal with flying back with leftover ammunition. Remember, some airlines want you to have the ammo in a separate suitcase 24 WWW.GUNSMAGAZINE.COM • SEPTEMBER 2010