General – Travel Time is Here – Blog 21-22

This time of the year sees the most volume of people traveling to visit families and friends for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Whether you drive, take a bus, train or plane; the question always comes up, can I travel with my defensive handgun and can I carry it on my person as in my home state?

So how do you find out whether the destination state you are traveling to has reciprocity and recognizes your state’s permit to carry? I frequently navigate to HandgunLaw.us. This website is an excellent source for the citizen on a host of information you may have. On the homepage a map of the states is displayed and it will link to the particular information for the state. It will list places you can and cannot carry. If you have contact with police, whether there is a “duty to inform” the officer if you have your defensive gun on your person. If your state of residence such as Connecticut (my former state of residence) does not reciprocity with any other states, there are over two dozen states that unilaterally recognize that permit and allow those state residents to carry in their jurisdiction. If you click the following link: States That Honor My License; it opens a pdf document and the column to the right of your state will list those states recognizing your permit. For a Connecticut resident permit, there are twenty-four states that unilaterally recognize the permit. In my present state of residence, Ohio; thirty-eight states recognize my Ohio CHL. There are presently twenty states who have legalized Constitution carry which allow carrying a handgun concealed without a permit.

You can also check with the governing authorities of the state you are planning to visit to check for any laws pertinent to the carry of a handgun and any restrictions. You may find that information with the agency who has been tasked with the administration of the permits. It could be the State Attorney General (such as Ohio); of the State Police (such as in Connecticut).

Many times, persons are interested in automobile travel and they may have to cross through a state which does not allow carry of a handgun. What do you do? Under the 18 U.S. Code § 926A – Interstate transportation of firearms; the federal law outlines how the firearm should be carried as you pass through states in which carrying a loaded firearm is prohibited. The law states:

Notwithstanding any other provision of any law or any rule or regulation of a State or any political subdivision thereof, any person who is not otherwise prohibited by this chapter from transporting, shipping, or receiving a firearm shall be entitled to transport a firearm for any lawful purpose from any place where he may lawfully possess and carry such firearm to any other place where he may lawfully possess and carry such firearm if, during such transportation the firearm is unloaded, and neither the firearm nor any ammunition being transported is readily accessible or is directly accessible from the passenger compartment of such transporting vehicle:  Provided, That in the case of a vehicle without a compartment separate from the driver’s compartment the firearm or ammunition shall be contained in a locked container other than the glove compartment or console.”

– 18 U.S. Code § 926A – Interstate Transportation of Firearms

I know this was a point of travel I had to check when on the road. Connecticut was surrounded by Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. None of these states had reciprocity with Connecticut, and did not recognize my permit. So, if there was a time to travel through the state, the gun and ammunition would need to be locked in a case. Once I entered a state which allowed me to carry on my permit, I would then place the gun on my person.

Again, drive within the law (watch the gas pedal) and avoid any contact with the police if at all possible. It’s just easier.

If you are traveling by air, there are set procedures for checking in your handgun with your baggage. The TSA has a webpage dedicated to the procedure. The page can be found by clicking the link: Traveling with Firearms and Ammunition. Most of your airlines websites also have specific instructions they are looking for if you check a firearm at the time of check-in.

The TSA advises that:

  • When traveling, comply with the laws concerning possession of firearms as they vary by local, state and international governments.
  • If you are traveling internationally with a firearm in checked baggage, please check the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website for information and requirements prior to travel.
  • Declare each firearm each time you present it for transport as checked baggage. Ask your airline about limitations or fees that may apply.
  • Firearms must be unloaded and locked in a hard-sided container and transported as checked baggage only. As defined by 49 CFR 1540.5 a loaded firearm has a live round of ammunition, or any component thereof, 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 request 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, including TSA-recognized locks.
  • Bringing an unloaded firearm with accessible ammunition to the security checkpoint carries the same civil penalty/fine as bringing a loaded firearm to the checkpoint. You may find information on civil penalties at the Civil Enforcement page.
  • Firearm parts, including magazines, clips, bolts and firing pins, are prohibited in carry-on baggage, but may be transported in checked baggage.
  • Replica firearms, including firearm replicas that are toys, may be transported in checked baggage only.
  • Rifle scopes are permitted in carry-on and checked baggage.

I have flown with my handgun and there were no problems with the check-in or luggage. I cased my handgun in a Pelican 1450 case. The locks were same keyed master padlocks and the case was placed inside of my hard sided suitcase which was locked with a TSA compliant locking mechanism.

There are hubs to avoid, those in New York City, and New Jersey; they are notoriously known for prosecuting travelers who have got stranded in those airports and the airlines will call authorities if you have to pick up your luggage with the gun in the terminal. A video by John Lovell on YouTube is very informative helpful. There is also a very good article on flying with guns at: 8541Tactical.com. Flying with guns is fairly easy, just pay attention to the details.

Are you a train person? Many people find the comfort and freedom in traveling by rails. Amtrak provides direction on how to check guns in when traveling with them at this link: Amtrak Firearms in Checked Baggage.

The page summarizes the stipulations:

  • Notification that the passenger will be checking firearms/ammunition must be made no later than 24 hours before train departure by calling Amtrak at 800-USA-RAIL. Online reservations for firearms/ammunition are not accepted.
  • The passengers must travel on the same train that is transporting the checked firearms and/or ammunition.
  • All firearms and/or ammunition must be checked at least 30 minutes prior to scheduled train departure. Some larger stations require that baggage be checked earlier. Please contact your departure station for more details.
  • All firearms (rifles, shotguns, handguns, taser guns, starter pistols) must be unloaded and in an approved, locked hard-sided container not exceeding 62″ L x 17″ W x 7″ D (1575 mm x 432 mm x 178 mm). The passenger must have sole possession of the key or the combination for the lock to the container. The weight of the container may not exceed 50 lbs/23 kg.
  • Smaller locked, hard-sided containers containing smaller unloaded firearms such as handguns, taser guns and starter pistols must be securely stored within a suitcase or other item of checked baggage, but the existence of such a firearm must be declared.
  • All ammunition carried must be securely packed in the original manufacturer’s container; in fiber, wood, or metal boxes; or in other packaging specifically designed to carry small amounts of ammunition. The maximum weight of all ammunition and containers may not exceed 11 lbs/5 kg.
  • The passenger is responsible for knowing and following all federal, state, and local firearm laws at all jurisdictions to and through which he or she will be travelling.
  • All other Amtrak checked baggage policies apply, including limits on the number of pieces of checked baggage, the maximum weight of each piece (50 lbs/23 kg).
  • Firearms/ammunition may not be carried in carry-on baggage; therefore, checked baggage must be available on all trains and at all stations in the passenger’s itinerary.
  • At the time of check-in, passengers will be required to complete and sign a two-part Declaration Form.
  • BB guns and Compressed Air Guns (to include paintball markers), are to be treated as firearms and must comply with the above firearms policy. Canisters, tanks, or other devices containing propellants must be emptied prior to checking and securely packaged within the contents of the passenger’s luggage.

If you travel by bus, the Greyhound Bus Lines webpage reveals that firearms are prohibited on your person, carry-on baggage and checked baggage.

It is my wish to you and your family, a blessed Christmas and Happy New Year.

God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

– Romans 5:8