What the Rules Are on Flying With a Gun

Flying with a firearm is allowed, as long as proper procedure is followed.

ByABC News
January 6, 2017, 7:12 PM

— -- Today's shooting at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport has many asking whether it's legal to travel with a firearm after it was reported that the suspected gunman checked his weapon in his baggage.

Carnage broke out today at the Florida airport when a gunman opened fire at a baggage claim area, killing five people, according to the Broward County Sheriff's Office. Senior officials confirm that the suspected shooter, identified by authorities as Esteban Santiago, flew into the airport today from Anchorage via Minneapolis. The gun was checked in Santiago's luggage, a source familiar with the investigation told ABC News.

What many may not be aware of is that flying with a firearm is allowed -- as long as proper procedure is followed. The traveler must also make sure to comply with any local, state or international laws concerning possession, according to the Transportation Security Administration.

There are steps one must take to properly store his or her firearm in his or her checked luggage. First, the firearm must be unloaded and stored in a locked, hard-sided container that cannot be easily accessed. Only the passenger should retain the key or combination to the lock.

The traveler then needs to declare the firearm or ammunition to the airline at the ticket counter. Firearm parts, ammunition and replica firearms may only be transported in checked luggage.

Flying with firearms is not new and people do it legally and safely every day. However, many travelers appear to misunderstand the rules when it comes to stowing firearms in carry-ons. Attempting to go through security and board an aircraft with a firearm, loaded or unloaded, is illegal and you will be arrested.

And yet, it happens every day. During the first eight months of 2016, the TSA has discovered more than 2,150 firearms in passengers’ carry-ons nationwide during routine screening of personal property at security checkpoints.

“Every day at airports across the country, TSA officers detect firearms -- many of them loaded
-- during the security checkpoint screening process,” said Cliff Van Leuven, TSA federal security director for Minnesota. “Passengers are allowed to travel with firearms, but it is important that certain procedures are followed to ensure it is done legally.”

You can learn about how to safely and legally stow your firearm when you fly at this link.