By Danielle Wall
With the holiday season underway, it is important to know the law if you will be flying with a firearm and/or ammunition. All firearms MUST be in your checked baggage. Firearms are not permitted in any carry-on baggage, meaning you cannot bring a firearm, even unloaded on to a plane with you. All firearms need to be unloaded and secured in a locked, hard-sided gun case. The key must be made available so that the bag/firearm can be searched by the airline/TSA if requested. Ammunition must be contained in commercial boxes and not loaded into any magazines, even if the magazine is not inserted into the firearm. Firearms and ammunition (in commercial boxes) can be placed in the same locked, hard-sided gun case, unless the airline you are flying specifies otherwise. The airline you are flying must be notified of the firearm in any checked baggage. As a note, it is illegal for any airline to mark a bag containing a firearm with a visible “firearm” sign. If you see an airline employee attempted to do this, report the incident to a supervisor, as this is a violation of the law.
Make sure to investigate the firearm laws of the State(s) that you are traveling to. Does your state have reciprocity with your destination state or states? Whether or not they recognize your concealed license/permit you must know the laws of the state you are traveling in. Recently, a federal court has held that the interstate transportation protections of the McClure-Volkmer Act of 1986 (stating that one can transport a firearm through a state that would otherwise make possession of a firearm illegal if the firearm is unloaded, cased and stowed in a trunk or vehicle storage compartment which is not readily accessible) only applies to vehicular travel. This means that if you have a connecting flight through a state that restricts possession of a firearm, you could face local prosecution.
As always, check with your specific airline (call them or visit their website) to make sure there are not any extra steps you need to take before heading to the airport for your flight. Some airlines may require a special check-in procedure or further paperwork/documentation. Also, you want to make sure you know where your bag will be when you arrive in your destination. Some airlines separate bags that contain firearms and make you retrieve them from their baggage office, while others send them on the baggage carousel with all the other passengers bags.
Below are links related to flying with a firearm and ammunition from the TSA and five (5) of the top major airlines this holiday season:
TSA Information – https://www.tsa.gov/travel/transporting-firearms-and-ammunition
American Airlines – https://www.aa.com/i18n/travel-info/baggage/firearms-and-ammunition.jsp
Delta Airlines – https://www.delta.com/us/en/baggage/special-items/overview
Jet Blue Airlines – https://www.jetblue.com/help
Southwest Airlines – https://www.southwest.com/html/customer-service/baggage/special-luggage-pol.html