We’re approaching the Summer, when many of us have vacation plans, so I want to talk about traveling by air with your firearm.
North Carolina law prohibits carrying a firearm anywhere it is prohibited by Federal law. That includes areas of the airport controlled by security administered by the Federal Government.
Let’s talk about transporting your firearm when you are traveling by air. The regulations for transporting firearms by air come from the Federal Government and they’re administered by the Transport Security Administration or the “TSA.” The TSA website provides helpful information on transporting your firearm by air, so you should check that website before you travel. The first thing you should do before traveling is also to check with your airline to determine if they charge any extra fees and any policies you need to know about.
Secondly, you must declare each firearm as checked baggage every time you present it for transport. That means you must check the baggage containing the firearm and inform the airline that your luggage contains a firearm at that time.
I’ve had clients arrested who forgot to inform the airline there was a firearm in their luggage and faced criminal charges as a result.
Now, the firearm that you’re checking must be unloaded and locked in a hard-sided container. Unloaded means you must have no live rounds of ammunition in the chamber or cylinder or in a magazine inserted in the firearm. Only the passenger should retain the key or combination to the lock unless TSA personnel requests 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, but make sure the container cannot be easily opened or you may be prevented from checking your gun.
Ammunition is also prohibited in carry-on luggage but may be transported in checked luggage. Firearm magazines, whether loaded or empty, must be securely boxed or included within a hard-sided case. Small arms ammunition, including ammunition not exceeding 75 caliber and shotgun shells of any gauge, may be carried in the same hard-sided case as the unloaded firearm. Firearm parts include your magazines, clips, bolts, and firing pins and are also prohibited in carry-on luggage but may be transported in checked luggage. The exception is rifle scopes, which are permitted in carry-on luggage. Replica firearms, including firearm replicas that are toys, may be transported in checked luggage only.
In North Carolina, when you travel to the airport, you must, of course, follow North Carolina laws. North Carolina is an open-carry State, so you can carry a loaded firearm in your car as long as it’s not concealed, or it can be concealed if you have a concealed firearm permit. However, most airports do not allow concealed or open carry, so the best policy is to transport the firearm to the airport in the same way that it will go on the airplane. That is, firearm and ammunition separated and in locked containers. If you have a question about a particular airport, you should check with that airport’s police or security.
When traveling by air with your gun, you need to be aware of the state gun laws at your destination site. It is very important that you’re in compliance with all firearm laws in the destination city and state when you recover your firearm after your flight. Many of you, I’m sure, have heard stories of people who flew with their gun to New York City and recovered their gun from their luggage and found themselves later arrested for violating New York’s gun laws. Those stories are true and you do not want to be one of those people, so make sure you’re familiar with the laws of your destination spot before you get on the airplane.
If you’re traveling Internationally with a firearm in checked luggage, please check the U.S Customs and Border Protection website for information and requirements before you travel.
Now, this is a summary of your rights when traveling by air with your firearm. Enjoy your visit and remember, if you are not sure about the law, contact U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to an Independent Program Attorney to make sure your trip is safe, legal, and enjoyable.