One of the perpetual memes on gun blogs is the hassle that the blogger has run into when traveling with firearms in checked baggage. To be sure often the airline agents don’t know the rules, but whether or not you’re right they can always make you miss your flight. It’s kinda stupid to try and stand on principle and argue when there’s and easy and painless way to avoid all but the most belligerent anti-gun agent’s provocations. And that is to be ultra-conservative in your packaging of the gun(s) and ammo. I’ve traveled quite a bit with firearms all over the U.S. and the one and only time I had a problem was when I didn’t follow my own advice. You won’t eliminate all problems with the following protocol, but you will minimize them. (Yes, this protocol goes above and beyond all airlines and federal requirements, but it’s easy to follow.)
- Put your unloaded gun in a hard-side locking gun case that can’t be pried open when locked. You can put your empty mag(s) in this case, too.
- Carry all your ammo in factory packaging. Other types of packaging may be more secure, but the airline people only know factory packaging. Tape all ammo boxes securely. Do not put the ammo in the case that your gun is in.
- Put your gun in its locked case, your ammo, and everything else that you want to bring in a hard-sided locking suitcase. And then use a strap around the suitcase even if you have the opportunity to lock it. Yes, you may have to shop around for a hard-sided locking suitcase (not one of those flimsy things that has a zipper going all around it – I mean a real hard-sided suitcase that has real locks). But so?
Finally, remember the term “ground security coordinator”. If you have done all the above and are still getting hassled, 1) do not be impolite, 2) do not ask for a supervisor, 3) do ask for the GSC. The GSC is someone who does know the rules.
I have lots of sympathy for people who do all the above and still run into problems, but none for people who haven’t bothered to prepare properly (as above) and then slobber all over the internet about their mistreatment. You know, just north of me in Vermont they make some excellent cheddar. Drop me a note if you ignore my advice and then want some to go with your whine.
Finally: I hit this point often and hard because it’s the part of self-defense that most people foolishly omit. If you carry a gun for self-defense, you have to know the law. Invest the money you’d spend on shaving a tenth of a second off your splits with Andrew Branca’s book or seminars — it’ll pay far greater dividends. Visit this link to learn more, and use the discount code “streetstandards” for a 10% discount.