Flying with Firearms – The Legal Brief ~ VIDEO

The Gun Collective
The Gun Collective

USA – Welcome back to The Legal Brief, the show where you thought I didn’t dress nicely.

I’m wearing a suit today because;

  • 1) I’m an attorney
  • 2) I’m also running for the NRA Board of Directors
  • 3) Jon and I were out doing a photo shoot for my website

As you probably guessed, I’m your host Adam Kraut and today we’re talking getting airborne with firearms.

A lot of people have asked what is the proper way to fly with a firearm?

Flying with a firearm is not any more difficult than flying generally, it just requires that you need to be aware of the regulations surrounding flying with a gun.

Let me start by saying that each airline has its own set of policies and procedures, and this video is only meant to address the federal regulations. We’ll begin with the transportation of a firearm before moving on to the ammunition itself.

And for the love of God check your frigging carry on [for guns, ammunition, gun parts, knives and empty shells,] before you line up to be groped by TSA.

49 CFR Section 1540.111 regulates the carriage of weapons, explosives and incendiaries by individuals with regard to civil aviation. It states that an individual may not transport, offer for transport in a checked bag, or in baggage carried in an inaccessible cargo hold a 1) loaded firearm or 2) unloaded firearm unless four criteria are met.

So if you want to transport a gun on a plane, these four criteria must be met:

First, the passenger must declare to the aircraft operator (read ticket agent) either verbally or in writing before checking their baggage that the passenger has a firearm and that it is unloaded. Second, the firearm has to actually be unloaded. Third, the firearm must be in a hardside container and fourth, the container in which the firearm is carried must be locked and only the passenger retains the key or combination.

As a side note, you cannot carry any of the firearm parts (save for a Scope) in a carry on. It all must be checked. Now the fourth point is probably the most important. You and you alone are to have the ability to open the container that has the firearm in it. There have been reported instances of TSA agents demanding a passenger relinquish their key so they can open the container. I can’t for the life of me figure out a reason which would require them to be able to open the container as they can see through it with an x-ray machine and there is no reason for them to open the thing.

With regard to ammunition, Section 1540.111 states “This section does not prohibit the carriage of ammunition in checked baggage or in the same container as a firearm.”

MTM 50 Round Shotshell Handled Case
MTM 50 Round Shotshell Handled Case :

However, 49 CFR Section 175.10 regulates small arms ammunition. It states that ammunition for personal use may be carried by a passenger in checked baggage if securely packed in boxes or other packagings specifically designed to carry small amounts of ammunition.

Ammunition clips and magazines must also be securely boxed. In other words, you can’t have ammunition in an ammo can or just thrown into a box.

Factory packaging or the MTM boxes some of us reloaders use will suffice.

Jon ran into an issue one time when trying to fly with ammunition because the amount of ammunition was greater than the weight limit set by the airline he was flying. Some airlines may have a specific weight limit for the amount of ammunition you are carrying.

Here are a few tips for flying with a firearm.

Arrive early, so that way you don’t encounter any unexpected delays with TSA. When I was coming back from Boise, TSA wanted to swab my luggage AFTER I declared there was a firearm in it. I’m not sure what they were expecting to find, perhaps gun powder residue, but that would make sense given there was a 4#@!$#@ gun in the luggage.

If traveling with a pistol, I lock the hard side container to the frame of the suitcase. My thought is it is a bit harder to walk out of an airport with a suitcase than a hardside case in a backpack. Check the website of the airline you are flying with to see if they have any special company restrictions.

So flying with a gun really isn’t that bad. Much like other gun laws individuals have made it sound more complicated than it really is.

Hopefully you’re now a little more comfortable with the idea of flying with a firearm. If you guys liked this episode, you know what to do, hit that like button and share it around with your friends. Have a question you want answered on this show, head over to The Legal Brief section on Be sure to check out my website for more information on my quest to serve YOU on the NRA Board of Directors. Don’t forget to like The Gun Collective on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Full 30, Snap Chat and wherever else you can catch us on social media.

And as always thanks for watching!

Links for this episode:

  • 49 CFR 1540.111 – Carriage of weapons, explosives, and incendiaries by individuals. :
  • 49 CFR 175.10 – Exceptions for passengers, crewmembers, and air operators. :
  • TSA – Transporting Firearms and Ammunition :
  • DOJ Letter :

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  • 6 thoughts on “Flying with Firearms – The Legal Brief ~ VIDEO

    1. New York… I’ve flown out of all three airports in the LI/NYC area (Islip, LGA and JFK) Here when you check in and declare, they call TSA AND the Police – PD comes and checks your Pistol license (you MUST have this in NY state – FOR NY state… You SHOULD be able to travel from NY without a NY LIcense IF you are returning from a registered match and have the right papers, but….)

      PD checks your license, and notes your info, including serial numbers of what you’re traveling with (covers me if it gets stolen) and checks for unloaded. Then the agent gives me the tag and off goes my bag.. Other than the typically one hour plus wait, it’s not a big deal (July out of LGA I had 8 officers roll up – thought things were going to go bad, but didn’t)

      On my returns, I’ve had nothing but super-casual responses… from a proper TSA check that it’s unloaded and on your way to “don’t worry about it, here’s your tag” without a glance… to “Just leave it open, TSA will check it and lock it” (THAT caused an argument, as I wasn’t letting my unlocked case out of my sight)

      I always suggest printing out both TSA rules, AND your airlines rules – the ticket agents especially seem to make up the rules as they see fit.

    2. Friday 13JAN 2017 I flew out of Bush International at Houston, TX, and had a couple firsts. Flown many times over the past several years, and most of the variations in getting through security was with the airline, but this time was a first for something with TSA. First, I was escorted to a TSA station and my suitcase was opened and things were generally lifted up and unzipped and pretty thoroughly searched as well as multiple wipe-downs for explosive residue in and around the shaving kit and other small bags. About the only thing that wasn’t opened was the locked pistol hardcase. Never had that happen before. Not worrisome, just unusual. The second thing was more concerning to me, as well as another person checking firearms at the same time – when the TSA agent finished the search, he put a big red “C” on the baggage tag. Both the other guy and I remarked to ourselves that we didn’t think that was supposed to happen, because it would identify our bags to any potential thieves as containing firearms. We did not choose to make an issue of it at that point. About 4 years ago, one airline ticketing agent made me open my bag and the locked pistol case and actually take my pistols out and SHOW him (in front of everyone else in the ticketing area) that the pistols were indeed unloaded before he would give me the TSA tag. Thankfully that was a one and only event.

    3. I always go to the 1st class check-in, I have never been refused.

      The agent there is usually the brightest and most experienced on the whole line.

      They will look at your firearms and then generally escort you directly to TSA.

      When I always wait until the agent gives me a thumbs up.

      You will find you be boarding your flight much quicker if you use first-class.


      A 3 gun shooter

    4. If your coming to Alaska , On Alaska Airlines flights 001-999 and flights 2000-2999, up to 50 lbs.(domestic) ammunition is allowed . Most airlines is 11 lbs . Alaska Airline international is 11 lbs . Remember no pistols to NYC airports without a NYC pistol permit. NYS is a no “assualt weapon” state , They don’t care about no 2A .

    5. “As a side note, you cannot carry any of the firearm parts (save for a Scope) in a carry on.”

      Know that an empty magazine will be considered a “firearm part” so don’t put empty mags into carry-on!

    6. Some agents make it more difficult than it needs to be. Two examples. Boston to Charlotte, the agent wanted two tags: 1 inside the hard case (new to me) and 1 outside (what I’m used to). Charlotte to Boston, the agent was stymied as there were TWO!! pistols in the same case! I had to wait until a TSA agent came to check the case. He whispered to me that he shouldn’t have had to be there but he did the inspection to get me on my flight. He even put a TSA inspection tag on the handle. When I got my bag back, TSA had opened it anyway.

      As to your tactic of locking the case to the frame, I started doing that after a problem at West Palm Beach. I was used to waiting near the counter for the “OK” from the agent after the declaration (although I had no idea why I was waiting–perhaps a confirmation X-ray ?). This time I was walked to a room with my bag. I was instructed to wait on a bench outside the room while the TSA agent took the bag into the room. About 15 mins later, I was told that I could go to my gate. When I got home that night and opened my bag, I discovered that there had been an attempt to pry open the metal case that contained my pistol. I upgraded to a better case and used a cable to lock the handle to the frame. So far, so good.

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