As more people are becoming gun owners and start to carry them for personal protection each year, the more important such topic becomes. A lot of people travel by plane or by vehicle across state lines everyday. Let’s say you know (hopefully you should already know by now as a concealed permit holder) all your home state and federal gun laws regarding possessing and carrying, that’s excellent. But if you have to travel, you do want to carry your gun to other states for the same purpose you carry in your home state. How do you find out other states laws, and to go about transporting your gun on the plane?
First, let’s dive in to – how to correctly bring your firearms on airplanes.
- Purchase a good hard gun case. I personally recommend a Pelican brand case. They are very durable, not to heavy, sealed which makes them waterproof, it has two holes to insert your padlocks and Pick N Pluck foam. I use a Pelican 1200 case which can easily fit a sub compact to a full size pistol. Pictures below shows a Glock 19 with two magazines, two knives and a flash light. Make sure your firearm and magazines are unloaded, double and triple check it!
Get two padlocks, why? Because if you just lock one end, someone can force the other end open wide enough and steal your valuable contents 😳 . Last thing is to get a cable lock, wire it through the handle of the Pelican case and through the frame inside of your check-in suitcase. Store your carry defensive ammunition in the original manufacture box or a hard box design for ammunition so the cartridges are separated from each other. Then you can just put them anywhere in your suitcase.
- No firearms, magazines, live ammo, knives are allow on your carry-on baggage. Please check thoroughly and make sure you don’t have any of the above in your carry-on luggage. To many people across the country get arrested and fined each year because they forgot their gun in their carry-on bag. Don’t be that person, don’t make the headlines and shame the majority of responsible gun owners.
- Once you enter the airport terminal, walk up to your airline counter and tell them you have a firearm to declare. Don’t say “I have a gun or a weapon,” those two words don’t fly well at airports. Don’t check-in using the self service or have the baggage assistance handle your suitcase that has your firearm.
The airline counter person will print your boarding pass, and ask you if your gun is unloaded. Sometimes they asked what type of gun. Then they will have you sign the firearms unloaded declaration slip, have you open your suitcase and place the slip
on top of your firearm hard case inside your suitcase. You will now lock your suitcase. Provide your own locks. Your check-in suitcase now gets handed of to the TSA, make sure you standby until TSA gives you the clear before heading down to the gates.
- Long guns. Use a hard rifle case that will go on it’s own and not inside the suitcase. Additional check-in baggage fees may apply depending on airlines.
- Check with your airlines firearms polices and TSA, each airlines firearms polices does vary slightly.
The next most important element is to know the gun laws of the state or states you’re traveling to. Know where you can’t carry.
First check the reciprocity agreement between your home state and the state you’re planning to visit. USACarry.com has a really great interactive reciprocity map.
If you MUST travel to a state that denies your constitutional right, then there is no point of bringing your gun in the first place. Unless you can get another out-of-state concealed carry permit from another state that recognizes the state you’re traveling to. I recommend people to have at lease two permits. Example would be one of your home state and one Florida or a Utah permit.
Now you know that the state you’re traveling to has reciprocity with your state. Great! But that doesn’t end there. Know the rest of the gun laws of the state you’re traveling to. Study or remember the places off limits to carrying. Or better to print it out with you just in case you forget.
Are you require to inform the police when pulled over? Does the state you are traveling to have preemption of local cities and counties? Does the “no gun sign” have the force of the law? How about state forest, WMA, state parks and national parks? The use of deadly force in self-defense.
What about open carry? Usually in most states, places off limits to concealed carriers also applies to open carry. With the exception of some states, open carry has more restrictions. As of 2016, in Arizona you need to have a valid concealed carry permit to open or concealed carry in restaurants that serves alcohol.
In Utah, if you don’t have a valid permit, you can’t open carry a round chambered. Silly I say, but that’s their laws.
The Open Carry Forums is a good place to get more information, the folks there are very helpful which they will reference the state codes and are up-to-date with the yearly legislation.
The best place to get all this information is http://www.handgunlaw.us To see the state/s of interest, just put in “/statename.pdf” after the above URL. For example, if you want check out Wyoming, you will enter http://www.handgunlaw.us/wyoming.pdf. or http://www.handgunlaw.us/states/westvirginia.pdf for West Virginia. Handgunlaws.us is very current, accurate and up-to-date on each states’ gun laws. They were one of the first to update Nevada recognizing Virginian’s CHP. They also reference the state law code sections, if you need to double check and reference, you can always go to that state law code website. The other really good option is to ask the states’ grassroots organization, they are very reliable with accurate information.
The NRA ILA also has a list of information, but it’s not as comprehensive as handgunlaw.us. Much more of a summary and bullet point type.