3 Steps to Take When Traveling With Your Firearm

After a long year and a half of adapting to the COVID-induced boredom and stir craziness felt across the nation, your family is long overdue for a vacation. So you decide to pack up the wife, kids, the dog, the smelly coolers, and tattered beach towels for a trip to Disney World.

But what about your trusted companion Roddy the Regulator (A.K.A. your 9mm Glock)? You carry him with you everywhere to ensure your safety and the safety of your loved ones, so hat happens when you venture outside of your normal routine? Can he even get on a flight? (Keep in mind that firearms are prohibited at Disney World.)

If you do choose to travel with your firearm, we want you to be well-prepared as this process can go horribly wrong if proper precautions are not taken. The last thing you want is to be detained by TSA for looking suspicious. That being said, here are 3 simple steps you can follow to ensure a seamless process.

1. First Things First: Can You Even Fly With Your Gun?

The short answer is yes, but it requires planning and precision.

First, before you pack anything, you’ll need to know the gun laws of your destination. Whether it’s Disney World, the Outer Banks, or Monterey Bay, you’ll need to make sure that above everything else, you’re legally permitted to carry your firearm at your destination. If you hold a concealed carry permit with reciprocity in that state, or you are traveling to a state who upholds constitutional carry, then you are fine. If you do not, then there’s not much use bringing a firearm unless you plan to get a permit in the state where your destination is located.

Please do your due diligence to research the gun laws of your destination, your permit’s reciprocity, where you can and cannot carry, and what resources you will need in order to travel with your firearm.

2. So You’ve Got the Go-Ahead, Now What?

Assuming you’re legally permitted to bring a firearm to your destination, then go ahead and begin planning your travel. What will you need?

To board a DOMESTIC FLIGHT with your firearm, you will need a lockable, padded, hard-sided case (which retails anywhere from $12-$ 200 typically), you will need a lock for that case (we suggest two locks), and you will need to check and declare that firearm with TSA.

You also need to make sure that the weapon is COMPLTELY unloaded, and that all gun parts and certain accessories are stored in the same fashion and checked as baggage.

(PRO TIP: when your case goes through the scanner, TSA needs to see that the firearm is completely unloaded. You don’t want to have any issues, so we suggest taking the slide off if you have a semi-automatic pistol to show that the firearm is unloaded and not able to be fired, or placing a lock through the firearm to show that there is no way the gun can be fired.)

Ammunition needs to be stored separately, and more than one firearm per case is acceptable. The box needs to be locked.

A gun stored in a box and ready to fly.

3. Arrival at the Airport & the Check-In Process

When you get to the airport, you will need to go to the ticket counter for your airline and inform them that you will be traveling with a firearm, and you need a declaration card to check the case. They will give you a declaration card to fill out and then you will have to lock the box and leave it at the ticket counter where they will check it in and store it on the bottom of the aircraft.

However, keep in mind that airlines do have the discretion to ban handguns from flights, so check beforehand with your airline to make sure that firearms are allowed. It doesn’t happen often, but sometimes in the wake of political events airlines will ban handguns traveling to certain areas temporarily. Delta, for example, banned handguns traveling to D.C. during the presidential inauguration.

(PRO TIP: Be very tactful in how you inform the attendant at the ticket counter. Please do not say anything like “I have a gun”, with no further information — you will most certainly scare the attendant and could have a plethora of issues coming your way. Try saying this: “Hello, I will be traveling with an unloaded, checked firearm. I have it locked in its case right now, but I will require a declaration card if you could be so kind to provide one.”)

Key Takeaways on Flying with a Firearm:
  • Firearms must be unloaded and locked in a hard-sided container and transported as checked baggage only.
  • Firearm parts, including firearm frames and receivers, are prohibited in all carry-on baggage and must also be placed in checked baggage.
  • All firearms, ammunition and parts in checked baggage must be declared at the airline ticket counter during the check-in process.
  • Replica firearms may be transported in checked baggage only.
  • Travelers are encouraged to check regulations related to carrying firearms where they are traveling from and to, as laws may vary by destination.
  • Rifle scopes are permitted in carry-on and checked bags.

To learn more about traveling safely with your firearm, enter your ZIP code here and find a Concealed Coalition training session in your area.

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