Sigh. If You Fly With a Gun, Know if It’s Allowed at Your Destination

by SharonKurheg

Nearly every day, the Transportation Security Administration puts out a press release about who’s been caught with a gun at which TSA checkpoints across the country. Over 1500 guns were intercepted at TSA checkpoints in the first quarter of 2023, 92% of which were loaded.

Of course, it is legal to transport a gun on a plane, but you have to follow some rules:

  • When traveling, comply with the laws concerning possession of firearms as they vary by local, state and international governments.
  • If you are traveling internationally with a firearm in checked baggage, please check the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website for information and requirements prior to travel.
  • Declare each firearm each time you present it for transport as checked baggage. Ask your airline about limitations or fees that may apply.
  • Firearms must be unloaded and locked in a hard-sided container and transported as checked baggage only. As defined by 49 CFR 1540.5 a loaded firearm has a live round of ammunition, or any component thereof, in the chamber or cylinder or in a magazine inserted in the firearm. For civil enforcement purposes, TSA also considers a firearm to be loaded when both the firearm and ammunition are accessible to the passenger. For example, if an individual has a firearm in accessible baggage and ammunition in his/her pocket, or any combination where the individual has access to both, the firearm is considered “loaded” for purposes of assessing a civil penalty. Only the passenger should retain the key or combination to the lock unless TSA personnel request the key to open the firearm container to ensure compliance with TSA regulations. You may use any brand or type of lock to secure your firearm case, including TSA-recognized locks.
  • Bringing  an unloaded firearm with accessible ammunition to the security checkpoint carries the same civil penalty/fine as bringing a loaded firearm to the checkpoint. You may find information on civil penalties at the Civil Enforcement page.
  • Firearm parts, including magazines, clips, bolts and firing pins, are prohibited in carry-on baggage, but may be transported in checked baggage.
  • Replica firearms, including firearm replicas that are toys, may be transported in checked baggage only.
  • Rifle scopes are permitted in carry-on and checked baggage.

So traveling with a gun within the U.S. is usually fine and simple, as long as you follow the rules. “You may transport unloaded firearms in a locked hard-sided container as checked baggage only. Declare the firearm and/or ammunition to the airline when checking your bag at the ticket counter. The container must completely secure the firearm from being accessed. Locked cases that can be easily opened are not permitted.”

However whenever you travel with a gun, even if you ship it safely, you still REALLY need to pay attention to that very first rule. I’ll say it again, for emphasis:

…comply with the laws concerning possession of firearms as they vary by local, state and international governments.

Why do I emphasize this? Because in late April, a 28-year-old American woman was arrested after Australian Border Force (ABF) officers say they found an undeclared 24-carat gold-plated handgun in her luggage.

According to a press release from the ABF, the woman, who arrived in Sydney from Los Angeles, didn’t have a permit to import or possess the firearm in Australia. As a result, ABF investigators arrested and charged her under Australia’s Customs Act, which prohibits the import of firearms without prior approval.

It’s illegal to “intentionally” import firearms without approval in Australia, a country that has very strict gun laws. If convicted, she faces up to 10 years in prison.

Commander Justin Bathurst commended the agency officers for their work.

“Time and time again, we have seen just how good ABF officers are at targeting and stopping illegal, and highly dangerous, goods from crossing Australia’s border,” Commander Bathurst said.

“The ABF is Australia’s first and most important line of defence. ABF officers are committed to protecting our community by working with law enforcement partners to prevent items like unregistered firearms getting through at the border.” Bathurst continued.

The woman, who has not been publicly identified, appeared in a Sydney court a few days after the incident, where she was granted bail, ABF said.

She could be subject to visa cancellation and removal from Australia, pending the outcome of her court case, the press release states.

Feature Photo: ABF

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