Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Houston, Texas 9/12 and 9/13

I will be presenting at the Texas Bar Association CLE on Firearms Law on September 12 in Houston.  I had thought of doing some history research on Saturday, but the sources that I need are not in that area.  The choices were flights home at the crack of dawn, or afternoon flights, so I will have to amuse myself Saturday until about 1:00 PM.  I will be arriving in Houston on a 6:00 PM flight Thursday evening.

Does anyone have any experiences (good or bad) checking firearms with either Delta or US Airways?  Delta's policy on checked firearms seems pretty reasonable, including allowing you to place your checked, locked, hard-sided gun case inside soft-sided luggage (where it is less likely to come to the attention of thieves):
Shooting Equipment

Shooting equipment is allowed as checked baggage only. It must fit within the very specific criteria that we outline below.
  • Declare to the Delta representative that you are checking a firearm.
  • Declare the existence of a firearm to security personnel if there's a security checkpoint before the Delta counter.
  • All firearms must be declared by the passenger to a Delta representative at the main ticket counter.
  • Present firearm(s) unloaded and sign a "Firearms Unloaded" declaration.
  • Firearms must be packed in a locked manufacturer's hard-sided container specifically designed for the firearm, a locked hard–sided gun case or a locked hard-sided piece of luggage. Handguns may be packed in a locked hard-sided gun case, and then packed inside an unlocked soft-sided piece of luggage. However, a Conditional Acceptance Tag must be used in this case.
  • Maintain entry permits in your possession for the country or countries of destination or transit.
  • Ensure small arms ammunition is packed in the manufacturer's original package or securely packed in fiber, wood, plastic or metal boxes and provide separation for cartridges.
  • You are responsible for knowledge of and compliance with all Federal, State or local laws regarding the possession and transportation of firearms. For more information about this regulation you can visit the TSA website.
  • If you are transporting a firearm to the United Kingdom, a permit from the United Kingdom is specifically required. You must contact the United Kingdom for more information about securing this permit.
US Airways has very similar policies:
US Airways will allow passengers to transport firearms in accordance with Federal Law.
  • Items of shooting equipment will be accepted as checked baggage only.
  • A passenger who presents checked baggage that contains a firearm must declare the weapon and sign a written acknowledgement that the firearm is unloaded.
  • Firearms must be packed in a manufacturer’s hard–sided container specifically designed for the firearm, a locked hard–sided gun case, or a locked hard–sided piece of luggage. Handguns may be packed in a locked hard–sided gun case, and then packed inside an unlocked soft–sided piece of luggage. However, a Conditional Acceptance Tag must be used in this case.
  • Baggage containing firearms must be locked at all times and the key or lock combination retained by the passenger.
  • A Firearm Unloaded Declaration form (available only at the airport) must be signed and placed inside the bag or gun case.
  • Checked ammunition may not exceed 11 lbs/5 kg per person. Ammunition clips with ammunition loaded are not accepted. Ammunition must be packed in the original manufacturing package or constructed of wood, fiber, plastic, or metal and provide separation for cartridges. No additional documentation is required.
  • There is no limit to the number of items contained in rifle, shotgun or pistol case, up to 50 lbs/23 kg, 62 in/157 cm in maximum.
  • A passenger who presents a firearm to be checked to an international destination must be in possession of all required import documentation for their international destination city and any international transit points. It is the responsibility of the passenger to acquire the required documentation from the applicable government entity prior to travel (usually a consulate or embassy). Firearms will not be accepted for transport if international import requirements have not been met.
 UPDATE: This is nice.  The last time I went to Texas, I ended up getting a Florida concealed handgun license, because Texas did not recognize Idaho permits (somewhat less strict requirements for training than Texas), but because Idaho issues such permits, Texas would not issue a non-resident permit to an Idahoan.  But because Florida issued to non-residents, and Florida had similar training requirements, Texas would recognize a Florida permit.  Convolution beyond need.

Now, however, Texas does recognize Idaho permits, at least since 2004.

UPDATE 2: One annoying aspect of the rules that most of the airlines have (but which does not appear to be a TSA requirement) is that ammunition has to be either factory boxes, or boxes that separate the rounds from each other.  This effectively means that you can't have ammunition loaded in magazines, which means that when you get where you are going, you need to spend time loading magazines, and unloading magazines when you are ready to get back on an airliner.


Eric said...

I have flown both of those airlines with a handgun in my checked baggage. I don't recall any problems. That was some years ago.

Do go read the TSA rules as well. They are less restrictive than the airline rules (e.g. TSA is OK with ammo loaded into magazines, but some airlines are not), but they have some key points to pay attention to.

Last I checked, YOU are the only one who is supposed to have the key or combo to your locked gun case, i.e. don't use a TSA lock on your gun case. This may have changed, I have successfully avoided flying for some time now and have not read the latest regs.
I believe it was Indy that seemed to violate this, they would demand your key, run off with it to open and swab the gun case, then bring it back.

TSA agents are also not supposed to handle firearms. They can open the case (with your key or combo) and swab for explosives, but not supposed to handle or check weapons. I have heard of violations of this as well, but it has been my experience that they do not touch the gun.

Checked firearms are pretty common in Texas airports, I doubt you'll have much problem. Last time I flew out of San Antonio I counted 9 firearms waiting to be checked in the line I was in, and that was just rifles. Who knows how many handguns.

Have a nice stay in Texas, and bring your warm weather clothes. In September it will cool a bit, probably only be 95 and deathly humid in Houston. :)

Bob Walsh said...

I carried a shotgun on USAir from Pennsylvania to Texas a few years back with no problem. I went to the counter at the airport in Williamsport the day before and they told me what to do. I bought a hard sided lockable gun case from Walmart. I told the agent at check in that I was checking a firearm and signed some papers they gave me. There wasn't any more to it. At DFW the gun was in the baggage claim office, not on the conveyor with the rest of the luggage. They made me show an ID before they would release it to me. BTW I wasn't carrying any ammunition.

austin-tatious said...

Interesting web site is

"Accounts of Flying with Firearms"

Eric said...

Re: "Update 2"

Wrap your magazines in a thin sheet of foam or other material to keep them from rattling, and put them inside a manufacturer's cardboard ammo box. I reinforced mine with clear packaging tape so I could reuse it, and put it in a dop kit separate from the gun box with my knife and other stuff I can't carry on the plane. No one has ever checked anyway.