3 months ago
I’ve traveled through airports in Charlotte, Jackson Hole, Dallas, Phoenix and Albuquerque in the past year with firearms. Virtually everything he said is wrong.
Or at least, if it isn’t wrong, it’s inconsistent with the way TSA dealt with me, and the TSA representatives with whom I dealt all did things differently. No kidding, they are completely out of control and don’t know what they’re doing, not just at one or two airports, but nationally.
So let’s begin at the beginning. First of all, lock your case while transporting your gun in the checked luggage, no matter what he said. Declare your firearm at the ticket counter. The airline will call for TSA. From here things get confused, like Barney Fife is doing the work.
I’ve had TSA agents ask me to open my case (which is why I keep the keys to the lock handy). I’ve had TSA agents look at the weapon, look at the form I completed asserting that the firearm was unloaded, ask me to lock my case, and then (almost always) throw the form down on top of the case, NOT inside it (the airlines insist that your form be visible inside the luggage but not inside the gun case, and they usually request that I simply place it on top of the gun case). Luggage handlers and TSA agents need to be able to see that there is such a form, and if it’s inside the case, they can’t. I have always had TSA and the airlines insist that ammunition be inside the luggage, but not inside the gun case.
I’ve also had TSA agents swipe the inside of the case (as if looking for residue of some sort, and there will always be residue inside my gun cases), and then ask me to lock my case. Not once have I ever had an agent verify that my firearm was unloaded. Not that I think that’s important anyway, and not that it’s important for transport (or carry through the airport, given the presence of a concealed handgun permit).
Once (Denver) the TSA sent my checked luggage through an X ray machine (for what reason I don’t know), and not do another single thing with it. Once I had TSA stop me at the door to a room, never request that I open the case and never verify that I even signed the form testifying that the firearm was unloaded, and yet open the rest of the luggage and remove items (toiletries, clothing, etc.), look at them, fondle them, and then stuff all of the items back into the luggage in chaotic fashion (Phoenix). The form I signed got stuffed in with the rest of the clothing. She never looked at the firearm and didn’t seem to care that I had one.
I could go on about other experiences. They don’t know what they’re doing. There is no consistent procedure, or they aren’t trained on it, or both, or some other combination of failures. It is the most random, confusing, nonsensical thing I’ve ever witnessed and would be amusing if it wasn’t so sad. Commercial businesses would shut down if we operated that way.
I’m not trying to tell you what to do, but this counsel above is not really very wise, and I don’t do what he said. Your experience may vary depending upon the airport, time of day, and whether the TSA agent had an argument with their spouse that morning or too much to drink the night before.