No Firearms Sign

Flying with a firearm

After the events of 9/11, Congress authorized the Aviation and Transportation Security Act of 2001, effectively federalizing airport security. The act officially established the Transportation Security Administration (TSA): the federal agency responsible for all transportation security. The TSA runs almost all security and screening checks at airports, from their controversial full-body scans to luggage checks. In addition, the TSA came out with a standardized list of prohibited air traveling items.

Firearms are one of the most important of these items. Firearms includes actual guns, but also BB guns, compressed air guns, flare guns, and even realistic replicas. According to their rules in Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations, passengers must declare their possession of unloaded firearm to the aircraft line at the ticket counter (either orally or in writing and prior) and prior to checking baggage.

If firearms are not properly declared, the TSA will confiscate your firearms and bag them for law enforcement to deal with. Once the issue is resolved with the airline, law enforcement will then release the bag to TSA for screening.

In addition, firearms are only allowed to be brought on a plane as a carry-on if they are unloaded and in a locked, hard-sided container—defined as one that “completely secures the firearm from being accessed” and one that cannot “be opened with little effort” so make sure your locked container is sufficient. The TSA also requires that the lock feature a single key or combination lock which only the traveler has or a TSA-recognized lock. Without a locked box, all firearms and components (ammunition, parts, frames, receivers etc.) are prohibited in carry-on baggage (but acceptable for checked baggage).

Similarly, ammunition must be securely packed in fiber (i.e. cardboard), wood, or metal boxes designed especially to handle small amounts of ammunition. However, small arms ammunition, including ammunition smaller than .75 caliber, may be carried in the same hard-sided case as the firearm. Firearm magazines and clips, meanwhile, must be secured in the same hard-sided containers as unloaded firearms.

The TSA prohibits all black powder or percussion caps used with black powder and all gun lighters containing lighter fluid.
A commonly asked question is if the TSA limits the number of firearms allowed in checked baggage: the answer is no. The consequences for violating these regulations are quite serious- up to $2,000 per violation and potentially facing state and local criminal prosecution.

While this is a blanket rule, certain airlines have additional limitations or fees. Firearm laws also differ in other countries, so if you’re flying internationally, rolex replica double check with your destination country to avoid legal trouble. Exceptions to the rule include law enforcement officers and air marshals, who have their own set of rules. Pilots and other flight crew members are not exempt, however, and must follow standard firearm declaration and storage.

No Guns Allowed Sign
The TSA highlights their prohibited items with signs posted throughout the airport and especially at baggage screening.
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