Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN Legal & Legislation

Airline Transportation of Firearms

Friday, August 1, 2003

To answer questions new airline security procedures have raised for NRA members transporting firearms in their checked baggage, NRA-ILA staff contacted the Office of Security Regulation and Policy at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

You can transport a firearm in your checked baggage subject to state and local restrictions, but you should first check with your airline or travel agent to see if firearms are permitted in checked baggage on the airline you are flying. Ask about limitations or fees that may apply at this time. NRA-ILA is working toward achieving uniformity and fairness in the rules and regulations that law-abiding gun owners face in their travels.

While surely few NRA members could forget this, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) wants to remind all travelers that attempting to bring firearms onto a plane in carry-on luggage is a serious federal violation. This is a “strict liability” offense, and TSA says violators can be, and have been, convicted regardless of criminal intent, or even if they simply forgot they possessed a firearm. TSA is obliged to enforce all the existing laws within its jurisdiction and will do so vigorously.

Firearms carried as checked baggage must be unloaded, packed in a locked hard-sided container and declared to the airline at check-in. Only the passenger may have the key or combination. Small arms ammunition must be placed in an appropriate container: "securely packed in fiber, wood, or metal boxes, or other packaging specifically designed to carry small amounts of ammunition. " Under TSA regulations, ammunition may be packed in the same locked container as the unloaded firearm, but airline rules may differ.

Some airlines, as private businesses, have imposed additional restrictions or requirements, such as limiting the number of guns that can be transported in a single case, or providing different standards under which gun cases may or may not be exempt from excess baggage limitations. Especially for international flights, many airlines follow industry guidelines that limit ammunition to 11 lbs. per passenger. Again, NRA-ILA is working to secure fair and uniform rules.

Following Congress`s mandate that all checked baggage must be screened for explosives, many travelers have become concerned by announcements that passengers should leave bags unlocked to allow hand inspection. This suggestion, the TSA made clear, does not apply to baggage containing firearms. All gun containers must still be locked after they are declared at the ticket counter.

Checked bags—including those containing firearms—will then be screened for explosives by various means. Depending on the airport, methods may include high-tech "sniffers" that analyze chemical vapors, X-ray machines, trained bomb detection dogs or a combination of these systems. Not all of these methods can differentiate explosives from the gunpowder residues on a fired gun or in loaded ammunition.

If the screening detects explosive materials other than those associated with ammunition, or if screeners can`t determine the exact nature of the alarm, and if all means available (such as X-rays) cannot rule out the possible presence of explosives, TSA screeners, working with airline representatives, will make every effort to contact the passenger so that the passenger can supply the key or combination to open the case, eliminating the need to break locks.

Cases will not be labeled as containing firearms. That practice was outlawed almost 10 years ago. Federal law now states: "No common or contract carrier shall require or cause any label, tag, or other written notice to be placed on the outside of any package, luggage, or other container that such package, luggage, or other container contains a firearm." [18 USC Sec. 922(e)] TSA will warn any airline that is marking cases that it is in violation of the law.

As always, since some airline counter clerks may have little training or experience in these procedures, gun owners should contact the airline in advance, obtain a written copy of the airline policy from a reservation clerk or the airline`s website, and bring it to the airport in order to answer any questions that arise at check-in. For further information, see: www.tsa.gov.

Below are links to information from specific airlines.

United Airlines

Continental Airlines

American Airlines

U.S. Airways

Delta Airlines

For more information about transporting firearms see the NRA-ILA Guide to the Interstate Transportation of Firearms


Also, see information about the New BATF Form For Nonimmigrant Aliens
TRENDING NOW
Update: Bloomberg Mayor Faces Child Endangerment and Firearm Charges

News  

Monday, August 2, 2021

Update: Bloomberg Mayor Faces Child Endangerment and Firearm Charges

Things just keep getting worse for Rochester, N.Y. mayor and member of Michael Bloomberg front group Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG) Lovely Warren. On July 16, the gun control proponent was charged with criminal possession of a ...

Biden’s ATF Nominee and Mass Surveillance, Erosion of Civil Liberties

News  

Monday, August 2, 2021

Biden’s ATF Nominee and Mass Surveillance, Erosion of Civil Liberties

David Chipman, the Biden administration’s pick to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is well known for his employment as a “senior policy advisor” with major gun control organizations, notably Everytown’s ...

Doctors Don’t Follow Their Own Orders

News  

Monday, August 2, 2021

Doctors Don’t Follow Their Own Orders

Readers are likely familiar with doctors’ attempts to position themselves as uniquely qualified to dictate firearms-related policy. Professional medical associations have a long history of producing recommendations they claim are “evidence-based” without any actual evidence or, worse, ...

Biden Reiterates Call to Ban 9mm Handguns

News  

Monday, July 26, 2021

Biden Reiterates Call to Ban 9mm Handguns

During a July 21 CNN “presidential town hall,” Joe Biden expressed his support for a ban on commonly-owned handguns. Responding to a question about the recent increase in violent crime, the career politician stated,

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

Gun Laws  

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

CAUTION: Federal and state firearms laws are subject to frequent change. This summary is not to be considered as legal advice or a restatement of law.

Comments on ATF’s New “Frame or Receiver” Rule Now Open

News  

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Comments on ATF’s New “Frame or Receiver” Rule Now Open

That publication triggered the opening of the proposed rule to public comments. The comment period will remain open until August 19, 2021.

Massachusetts: Gun Bills Scheduled for Committee Hearing Tomorrow!

Monday, July 26, 2021

Massachusetts: Gun Bills Scheduled for Committee Hearing Tomorrow!

Tomorrow, the Joint Committee on the Judiciary will hold public hearings on both pro- and anti-gun bills.

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

Gun Laws  

Monday, June 30, 2014

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

CAUTION: Federal and state firearms laws are subject to frequent change. This summary is not to be considered as legal advice or a restatement of law.

ATF Targets Pistol Stabilizing Braces in New Rulemaking

News  

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

ATF Targets Pistol Stabilizing Braces in New Rulemaking

On June 7th, ATF published a new notice of proposed rulemaking on its website...

North Carolina: Guilford County Considering Firearm Discharge Restrictions

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

North Carolina: Guilford County Considering Firearm Discharge Restrictions

On August 5th, the Guilford County Board of Commissioners will consider File # 2021-294 to restrict hunting and target shooting, though it remains unclear if they even have the authority to do so. If you ...

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -

More Like This From Around The NRA

NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.