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Transporting Guns On U.S. Air Travel

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In light of the recent tragic events at Fort Lauderdale airport, many are questioning how firearms were able to be transported on an airplane. In fact, gun owners have the right to transport their firearms on airplanes if they are unloaded, locked in a case, and inside checked luggage. A knowledgeable Florida gun law attorney can advise gun owners on their gun rights and defend them should the need arise. In most cases, people can smoothly transport their guns when traveling by air if they familiarize themselves with federal and state regulations, know TSA and airplane policies, and follow these tips.

Pack In A Locked Hard-Sided Case

Transport any unloaded guns in a hard and lockable gun case, preferably one with foam lining that can accommodate to the shape of the firearm or ammunition. This case must be durable enough to withstand rough handling and, according to the 49 CFR 175.10 (a)(8) federal regulation, cannot be easily accessed by anyone but the gun owner. Therefore, it is best if the case is locked with non-TSA approved padlocks. Whether or not guns and ammunition can be packed together or separately can depend on specific airline guidelines and state restrictions. In general, ammunition and guns must be packed in separately checked cases with the exception of ammunition not exceeding .75 caliber which can be packed in the same checked case as the unloaded gun. Also, most airlines do not allow ammunition to be transported in magazines, use the original ammunition packaging or ammunition containers specified by the airline policy.

Declare Gun At Baggage Check-In

If transporting firearms, the curbside check-in cannot be used. Gun owners must proceed to the baggage check-in counter and have their firearms declared. Air guns, air pistols, and air rifles are not considered firearms and therefore do not need to be declared, but it is best to do so to prevent any misunderstandings. The attendant will hand over a declaration form that needs to be filled out to declare that the gun is unloaded. This form will be taped onto the case or be placed inside the case, if the latter, ask for a copy of the form to tape onto the exterior.

Politely Go Through The TSA Inspection

Once declared, the cases that hold the guns and ammunition will have to go through TSA inspection. TSA agents will ask for the padlock keys so they can unlock the hard case, or they will ask the gun owner to unlock the case himself by using keys or a combination. Do not give TSA agents the combination code to the locks even if they ask. Only owners should be able to access their firearm case; this is protected under federal regulations. Once they open the case, TSA agents are only permitted to visually inspect the contents of the case; they are not allowed to handle or even have contact with the firearms. If they believe further inspection is necessary, they must bring in a law enforcement officer to carry it out. After the inspection, lock the case and put the padlock keys in carry-on. Do not immediately go to the gate. Gun owners should stand by in case they are called back by the TSA to open their case again for reinspection.

If you follow the TSA policy page and your airline’s policy page concerning the transportation of firearms, you will be able to comfortably transport your gun through U.S. air travel. Still, the process is not short, so it is best to arrive at the airport a few hours before your flight.

A knowledgeable Florida gun law attorney will help familiarize you with the federal and state laws governing gun carrying and transporting. If you have any further questions regarding federal and state gun laws or if you feel your second amendment rights were undermined, don’t hesitate to call Graham Legal for a free consultation.

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