Right to Keep and Bear Arms is a DKos group of second amendment supporters who have progressive and liberal values. We don't think that being a liberal means one has to be anti-gun. Some of us are extreme in our second amendment views (no licensing, no restrictions on small arms) and some of us are more moderate (licensing, restrictions on small arms.) Moderate or extreme or somewhere in between, we hold one common belief: more gun control equals lost elections. We don't want a repeat of 1994. We are an inclusive group: if you see the Second Amendment as safeguarding our right to keep and bear arms individually, then come join us in our conversation. If you are against the right to keep and bear arms, come join our conversation. We look forward to seeing you, as long as you engage in a civil discussion.As always, if you're interested in joining RKBA, message KVoimakas.
So I went to visit my wife, who is taking care of family down in Virginia. Since I don't know what the weather would be on the way back, I couldn't take the motorcycle down. The only other option is flying down.
Now, I haven't flown since before 9/11 and I was in high school so flying with a firearm wasn't even on my mind back then. Security was also very different since it was before 9/11. I like to plan things out when it comes to...well, just about everything...so I first checked to see where the plane would land and if my firearm is legal in those states. Since two of the stops are in Michigan, I know that I'm legal there (I live in Michigan). But the last one is down in Norfolk, VA. There are multiple resources online that show what states honour your concealed carry permit. USA Carry is a big one. NEVER just trust an internet resource. Laws change. I would follow up with the state police and the city police of where you're going. This isn't foolproof either since you'd be surprised how little LEOs know of firearm laws. I get to focus on one section of the law (firearm) but they have to know everything. Things fall through the cracks. I would also check with your local state government (department would vary depending on what state you're in) to see who honours your permit.
So I've verified that I can legally carry in Virginia and my firearm/ammo aren't a problem. Now what?
Time to figure out HOW you transport firearms. According to the TSA, you can pack firearms in checked baggage as long as a few requirements are met. This also varies a little bit so check your airline's website. I flew with Delta, so here's their site. I ended up using two Pelican cases inside one larger bag that was checked. One Pelican case held ammo and knives. The other held my 1911 and magazines.
Make sure there is no ammo in the locked case containing your firearm. Also, the locks CAN'T be TSA approved. Let me say that again. The TSA approved locks that you normally put on checked baggage AREN'T USABLE on the hard cases containing firearms.
So, I've done my research. I get the appropriate cases and I plan on being there an additional 1/2 hour before the 'get there one hour ahead of time' since I'm expecting complications arising from the transportation of a firearm.
Yeah, not so much.
Delta made me fill out a card, they took the bag, and that was it. It added maybe an additional 5 minutes to the check in process. Of course, I'm flying out of a rural airport that is located in an area where "You don't own a gun?" carries more shock then "You own a gun?" This comes into play later.
So, there was some BS dealing with the plane, fog, and on landing on the second leg, hitting a bird. You guys and gals don't really care about that though BUT there was a relevant part. We land at the second stop, hit the bird, and get booted off the plane. I'm waiting in the security checkpoint so I don't have to go through the screening/security process again. Until I get kicked out. On my second time through, the lead TSA lady asks if I'm a hunter to make sure I don't have any loose ammo in pockets. I was a bit surly (due to the three hours of previous delay and the two missed connections) and responded with "No, I'm a shooter. All that stuff is in the checked luggage."
Surprise surprise, I'm randomly (her words, not mine) selected for additional security screening.
I pass with flying colours and am let back on the plane. I make a mental note to REALLY try not to be a dick to the TSA people and the Delta employees since the fog and hitting a bird aren't their fault.
I land in Detroit. I wait and make my connection down to Norfolk.
Once I land in Norfolk, I go to the baggage claim office to wait for my bag. The lady there says that only weird shaped or oversized baggage makes it to her office. When I mention that my checked luggage contains a firearm, she says it should still go to the carousel. I find this quite weird and get my luggage when it exits the belt. I open it and double check my items to make sure nothing went missing.
I then make it to my sister-in-law's, where my wife is staying, with no problems.
All in all, flying with a firearm isn't even CLOSE to the experience I was expecting. If you're flying across the country, check the local laws, the airline regulations, the TSA regulations and plan ahead.
One final note: I'm not a lawyer and your local laws might be different or your airline might have different regulations. Take this as an anecdote, not as legal advice.