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View Full Version : Need advice for traveling with a checked-in firearm on Delta


MidnightSon117
11-03-2009, 12:27 PM
I'm going from SFO to Fort Lauderdale/Miami, with a plane transfer in JFK in between. I'm flying Delta Airlines.

What's the law regarding leaving the plane and having your checked-in firearm transferred to another plane, versus just a stopover and staying in the same plane? Will my baggage get screened again by TSA, and could I be in violation of possessing an unlicensed firearm in NYC? Anything I can do to make sure this goes smoothly?

Sorry if this is in the wrong forum, just didn't know where to ask. Thanks.

professorhard
11-03-2009, 12:30 PM
Just carry it on.

MidnightSon117
11-03-2009, 12:34 PM
Elaborate.

Purple K
11-03-2009, 12:35 PM
Once you check your bag with the weapon properly secured and documented, you're done. It's up to the airline to make sure that your bag and it's contents arrive at your final destination

Ron-Solo
11-03-2009, 12:45 PM
Just carry it on.

Not the place for sarcasm. Literally taken, your advice would wind him up in jail in San Francisco.

Check it, DECLARE IT, and secure it properly. You will be fine. You won't be possessing your bag in NYC, and the airline will transfer it directly to the next plane. They won't re-screen it since it was screened in SFO and not returned to you in NYC.

If you have to reclaim it in NYC (for an overnight layover, etc) you will run into issues with NYC gun laws.

Contact the airline ahead of time and follow their procedures and you will be fine. Only travel with a firearm if you must. Just because you can carry in another state doesn't mean you need to, or should. Be reasonable, be responsible and enjoy your trip.

bwiese
11-03-2009, 12:50 PM
OUCH! You have a layover in JFK? DON'T BRING A GUN...

... or reschedule your flight to not go thru JFK, or ship your gun to yourself in Florida, "c/o" the resident at that address.

People have had significant gun drama in transit thru NY/NJ. NRA is currently litigating one if not more cases involving legit transit protected by FOPA '86.

You'll likely be fine, but the edge conditions DO exist. and they can be brought about bad weather - what happens if you have to change planes and manually take your bags and recheck in? Can happen. What happens if your luggage is lost and you somehow need to claim it there?

Don't expect NY cops to know or care about exigencies, they just think they have a Sullivan Act violation.

Either change flights to reroute well away from NE area (i.e, fly thru Atlanta or St Louis or whatever) or ship your gun to yourself.

MidnightSon117
11-03-2009, 12:52 PM
Ron-Solo, exactly what I hoped to hear. Thanks for the response!

MidnightSon117
11-03-2009, 1:01 PM
Bill it's actually just a plane transfer. A layover would mean I'm staying overnight if I'm not mistaken, meaning taking my luggage from the airline.

But yeah, I've been reading about those edge cases, and how easily it can happen. My luggage gets transferred to baggage claim and keeps going round and round, do I watch it or grab it? DOH!

Dammit, I should have gotten a non-stop. Effin New York.

bwiese
11-03-2009, 1:05 PM
Bill it's actually just a plane transfer. A layover would mean I'm staying overnight if I'm not mistaken, meaning taking my luggage from the airline.

What happens if there's mechanical failure, extended layover, bad weather? This sh*t happens, esp as winter/holiday season approaches.

You're assuming everything goes right.

I'm assuming everything - or enough things - will go wrong.

You don't need to be a test case.

Please change your flight to avoid NY/NJ (or anywhere near there, if it were to be diverted). It may only cost $50.

Or, send your gun to yourself in Florida. You can always pick up a box of ammo there.

kcbrown
11-03-2009, 1:14 PM
Either change flights to reroute well away from NE area (i.e, fly thru Atlanta or St Louis or whatever) or ship your gun to yourself.

I thought you could legally only ship a gun to a manufacturer or to/through a FFL. No?

bwiese
11-03-2009, 1:29 PM
I thought you could legally only ship a gun to a manufacturer or to/through a FFL. No?

True - generally.

But this is one exception. It's your gun, and you're allowed to get your own gun (as long as no state/local restructions, which FL doesn't have.) If shipped to your relative, etc. it should be mailed "c/o (care of)" the resident, and should remain securely wrapped & unopened until you arrive.

[Another exception would be shipping inherited firearms across state lines to the intended heir/probate recipient, etc. In CA, you can receive such firearms this way, without an FFL, providing you have a valid HSC card if handguns involved, and provided you fill out Operation of Law paperwork within 30 days.]

MidnightSon117
11-03-2009, 1:30 PM
Bill, I may end up not bringing a firearm. Thanks for reminding me of that Sullivan Act crap they have over there--I figure next time I'll just go nonstop ahead of time. I'd actually switch flights if I could, but I'm flying with a group of friends.

mej16489
11-03-2009, 2:56 PM
I got stuck overnight at JFK due to a weather delay once. I had a firearm in my checked luggage.

I didn't want to risk re-declaring my firearm at check-in so I UPSed it to myself c/o the hotel at my destination. That was one of the most sleepless nights I'd ever had in my life...I'd never been so happy I didn't have a gun hahahaha

Shotgun Man
11-03-2009, 3:56 PM
I did it for the first time and was struck by how nervous the counter attendant became. She was quaking.

On the way back, they had a TSA (or could it have been Homeland Security?) employee do the inspection in a room with me present. He acted like a big shot, putting on latex gloves as he ordered me to open the case. He then proceeded to tug vigoursly on the foam inside the case, looking for a false compartment. He scrutinized the plastic baggies that held silicon cloths. He open the small bottle of gun oil and sniffed it. I was using the case to also transports some souvenir candies. He opened each box up and carefully inspected it. The empty gun socks he went through inch by inch.

My two long arms lay there with their actions closed. He didn't pick up the guns or subject them to any type of inspection. They could have both been fully loaded, and he would not have discovered it.

I'm a libertarian and I value my privacy, but if they're going to single out firearms for inspection, they should actually inspect them for being loaded.

I figure he had received no training on inspecting firearms. He did not want to fumble around and risk looking stupid or shooting himself.

Glock22Fan
11-03-2009, 4:14 PM
snip

On the way back, they had a TSA (or could it have been Homeland Security?) employee do the inspection in a room with me present.

snip.

You are required to be present. When travelling, the firearms should be locked in a case with a non-TSA lock, so they can't inspect them if you are not there.

I have had a slightly nervous airline agent relax when she saw that my handgun was in pieces, but never anything like you describe.

bwiese
11-03-2009, 4:30 PM
You are required to be present. When travelling, the firearms should be locked in a case with a non-TSA lock,
so they can't inspect them if you are not there.

In theory, yes.

In practice - and this varies with airport architecture, airports weren't designed for post-9/11 lines/security, etc. - there may not be inspection areas where you can join in hallowed fellowship with a TSA guy, and there may be reluctance to do this in more public areas. Combine that with busy airport and limited time, and shortcuts may be needed.

I am glad to give my key or combo in envelope to TSA to relay to TSA (the case has already been tagged and gone down the chute).

If TSA and FAA wanna have a fight over who gets to do what, when, that's fine. I don't have to pick a winner in TSA vs FAA.

I'd love to be charged for complying with law enforcement.

Hunter
11-03-2009, 7:36 PM
.....My two long arms lay there with their actions closed. He didn't pick up the guns or subject them to any type of inspection. They could have both been fully loaded, and he would not have discovered it......

TSA cannot touch your firearm at all. They can only look at it and are allowed to touch equipment and the case it is housed in, but not the gun itself. In order for them to see if the gun is actually loaded, they either need to xray it or have the owner present to open the action.

Shotgun Man
11-03-2009, 7:45 PM
TSA cannot touch your firearm at all. They can only look at it and are allowed to touch equipment and the case it is housed in, but not the gun itself. In order for them to see if the gun is actually loaded, they either need to xray it or have the owner present to open the action.

Wow. I did not know that. Why cannot they touch my firearms? It's true he never touched them.

Maybe they x-rayed to do the loaded check.

mycrstuff
11-03-2009, 8:05 PM
Don't check any luggage going through Miami. I have friends in the airline business and they have told me that anything of value disappears at the Miami airport. Don't bring anything with you that you can't carry on. The only place worse than Miami is the Newark New Jersey Airport.

rabagley
11-03-2009, 8:53 PM
In theory, yes.

In practice - and this varies with airport architecture, airports weren't designed for post-9/11 lines/security, etc. - there may not be inspection areas where you can join in hallowed fellowship with a TSA guy, and there may be reluctance to do this in more public areas. Combine that with busy airport and limited time, and shortcuts may be needed.

Specifically, this is what happens at SJC. They do not have a TSA inspection area prior to your release of the luggage. When they detect the declared firearm in the luggage, they send someone to the gate to call your name, you hand them the key, they inspect the case, bring the key back, and you pray that everything is in the exact same state that you left it (it was).

Now that I know this, when I'm traveling with firearms into the bay area, I fly into SFO.

Hunter
11-03-2009, 10:44 PM
Wow. I did not know that. Why cannot they touch my firearms? It's true he never touched them.

Maybe they x-rayed to do the loaded check.

This may surprise you also....TSA is not responsible for checking if the firearm is actually loaded or not. The owner of the gun is responsible for doing that and has to signed the firearm check card stating that it is unloaded. Neither the airlines nor TSA have to confirm this (ie gun is unloaded) but instead must confirm that that signed card is indeed in the case and signed off. Now some airlines will ask that you show them the gun is unloaded, but that is not a requirement. Also, some TSA agents will ask if you can show them that the gun is unloaded if it is not obvious to them by an open action. But others will not even bother with that.

I personally will always air travel with my guns in gunsocks or even soft cases which are then placed in the aluminum case. The agent opens up the hardcase and only sees another soft case or gunsock. I have yet to see them touch the soft case , let alone the gunsock covered gun. I do this as it better protects my guns (when traveling with 2 or more) and it keeps the side show peepers away if the TSA inspection is out in the open.

Dr Rockso
11-04-2009, 12:01 AM
I didn't want to risk re-declaring my firearm at check-in so I UPSed it to myself c/o the hotel at my destination. That was one of the most sleepless nights I'd ever had in my life...I'd never been so happy I didn't have a gun hahahaha
Probably a good call, I imagine that asking for a declaration card at JFK gets you all sorts of attention.

Glock22Fan
11-04-2009, 7:39 AM
I seem to remember some years ago a case where the agent asked if a rifle was unloaded.

"Of course it is," said the travellor, "See?" then he demonstrated by pulling the trigger and made a hole in the roof.

HowardW56
11-04-2009, 7:49 AM
You are required to be present. When travelling, the firearms should be locked in a case with a non-TSA lock, so they can't inspect them if you are not there.

I have had a slightly nervous airline agent relax when she saw that my handgun was in pieces, but never anything like you describe.

I tried the non-TSA lock thing once, they cut them off, and put a printed form in my gun case explaining that they cut the locks because they weren't TSA locks, and they used zip ties to close the case...

Mitch
11-04-2009, 7:52 AM
Also, some TSA agents will ask if you can show them that the gun is unloaded if it is not obvious to them by an open action. But others will not even bother with that.

A TSA agent once asked me if a Bluegun was unloaded. No lie.

HowardW56
11-04-2009, 7:52 AM
Specifically, this is what happens at SJC. They do not have a TSA inspection area prior to your release of the luggage. When they detect the declared firearm in the luggage, they send someone to the gate to call your name, you hand them the key, they inspect the case, bring the key back, and you pray that everything is in the exact same state that you left it (it was).

Now that I know this, when I'm traveling with firearms into the bay area, I fly into SFO.

I've never had a problem with San Jose, I declared the gun, filled out the declaration and put it in the case.

They cut off the non-TSA locks in Sacramento....

Glock22Fan
11-04-2009, 8:01 AM
the tsa website page (http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/assistant/editorial_1666.shtm) My highlights

The key regulatory requirements to transporting firearms, firearm parts or ammunition in checked baggage are:

You must declare all firearms to the airline during the ticket counter check-in process.
The firearm must be unloaded.
The firearm must be in a hard-sided container.
The container must be locked. A locked container is defined as one that completely secures the firearm from access by anyone other than you. Cases that can be pulled open with little effort do not meet this criterion. The pictures provided here illustrate the difference between a properly packaged and an improperly packaged firearm.
We recommend that you provide the key or combination to the security officer if he or she needs to open the container. You should remain present during screening to take the key back after the container is cleared. If you are not present and the security officer must open the container, we or the airline will make a reasonable attempt to contact you. If we can't contact you, the container will not be placed on the plane. Federal regulations prohibit unlocked gun cases (or cases with broken locks) on aircraft. You must securely pack any ammunition in fiber (such as cardboard), wood or metal boxes or other packaging that is specifically designed to carry small amounts of ammunition.
You can't use firearm magazines/clips for packing ammunition unless they completely and securely enclose the ammunition (e.g., by securely covering the exposed portions of the magazine or by securely placing the magazine in a pouch, holder, holster or lanyard).
You may carry the ammunition in the same hard-sided case as the firearm, as long as you pack it as described above.
You can't bring black powder or percussion caps used with black-powder type firearms in either your carry-on or checked baggage.

We and other authorities strictly enforce these regulations. Violations can result in criminal prosecution and civil penalties of up to $10,000 per violation.

Airlines may have their own additional requirements on the carriage of firearms and the amount of ammunition that you may have in your checked baggage. Therefore, travelers should also contact the airline regarding its firearm and ammunition carriage policies.

I read this as saying that you should be there during the inspection and if they can't contact you, the case will not be loaded onto the plane (not that they can cut the locks off) and furthermore, as the case cannot be loaded without being properly locked, it is wrong for them to cut the locks off and replace with ties.

Of course, it is quite likely that the TSA people ignore their own rules and make it up as they go along.

HowardW56
11-04-2009, 8:09 AM
the tsa website page (http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/assistant/editorial_1666.shtm) My highlights



I read this as saying that you should be there during the inspection and if they can't contact you, the case will not be loaded onto the plane (not that they can cut the locks off) and furthermore, as the case cannot be loaded without being properly locked, it is wrong for them to cut the locks off and replace with ties.

Of course, it is quite likely that the TSA people ignore their own rules and make it up as they go along.

I've never read that, but it is obvious that they do make up their own rules as they go along...

Sacramento is the only place I've had the locks cut, everywhere else they just ask to look, if they look at all...

Decoligny
11-04-2009, 8:12 AM
If you take a firearm, and check it appropriately, just be sure that if you are forced to delay overnight in NYC, that you DO NOT accept your checked baggage from the airline. Contact an agent of the airline, explain to them that you have a legally checked firearm in your checked baggage, and that to accept it in NYC would be a felony. Tell them that they have to secure your luggage and they have to ensure that it gets onto your next flight.
Your carry-on bag should have enough stuff to get you through a night at a hotel.

bwiese
11-04-2009, 8:17 AM
If you take a firearm, and check it appropriately, just be sure that if you are forced to delay overnight in NYC, that you DO NOT accept your checked baggage from the airline. Contact an agent of the airline, explain to them that you have a legally checked firearm in your checked baggage, and that to accept it in NYC would be a felony. Tell them that they have to secure your luggage and they have to ensure that it gets onto your next flight.
Your carry-on bag should have enough stuff to get you through a night at a hotel.


That's if just everything goes right.

The counter girl may just call an airport cop for "clarification" and the fun begins.

MidnightSon117
11-04-2009, 6:41 PM
Don't check any luggage going through Miami. I have friends in the airline business and they have told me that anything of value disappears at the Miami airport. Don't bring anything with you that you can't carry on. The only place worse than Miami is the Newark New Jersey Airport.

Any idea if the airport at Ft. Lauderdale is just as bad as Miami's airport?

Capt. Speirs
11-04-2009, 10:48 PM
Flying with guns and how to take advantage of it.

http://deviating.net/firearms/packing/

http://deviating.net/firearms/packing/legal_sheet.pdf

<object width="425" height="344"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/mGjddG5Owsc&hl=en&fs=1&"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/mGjddG5Owsc&hl=en&fs=1&" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="425" height="344"></embed></object>

Kinda long but good.

rsandovaljr
11-05-2009, 7:50 AM
I did it for the first time and was struck by how nervous the counter attendant became. She was quaking.

On the way back, they had a TSA (or could it have been Homeland Security?) employee do the inspection in a room with me present. He acted like a big shot, putting on latex gloves as he ordered me to open the case. He then proceeded to tug vigoursly on the foam inside the case, looking for a false compartment. He scrutinized the plastic baggies that held silicon cloths. He open the small bottle of gun oil and sniffed it. I was using the case to also transports some souvenir candies. He opened each box up and carefully inspected it. The empty gun socks he went through inch by inch.

My two long arms lay there with their actions closed. He didn't pick up the guns or subject them to any type of inspection. They could have both been fully loaded, and he would not have discovered it.

I'm a libertarian and I value my privacy, but if they're going to single out firearms for inspection, they should actually inspect them for being loaded.

I figure he had received no training on inspecting firearms. He did not want to fumble around and risk looking stupid or shooting himself.

I flew with my firearm to Arizona last year out of SFO and the TSA agent did exactly what you just said only he did it with a smile. :)

The ticket staff was very professional and knew exactly what to do. She handed me the air line declaration form to be later put in the case in front of the TSA agent really easy.