Thursday, May 26, 2011

Michigan CCW Class: How To Legally Transport Your Handgun On An Airplane

One benefit of having a state of Michigan issued Concealed Pistol License (CPL) is that the named person can take his concealed pistol with him on vacations and business trips.

Most people, when informed of this benefit, automatically assume that the mode of transportation is just limited to travel by car. The purpose of this post is to document how a person can legally take his pistol with him while traveling by plane.

Determine Whether Your Handgun Concealed Carry License Is Recognized

The very first thing that a Michigan CPL-holder should do before making plans to travel with a concealed handgun is to check if the destination state honors CPLs from Michigan. Currently, there are 35 other states in our country that have firearm carry reciprocity with Michigan.

Firearm reciprocity agreements are maintained for the state of Michigan by the Attorney General's Office. Thus, gun-owning travelers should consult the MI AG's web site to see if our state has reciprocity with the destination state. If there is reciprocity between the destination state and Michigan, the traveler can assume with confidence that he can take his firearm there while visiting.

However, travelers should keep in mind that firearm laws in other states may differ significantly from the laws on the books in Michigan. It is the traveler's responsibility to visit both the destination state's Office of the Attorney General and the destination state's State Police Department to learn the legal responsibilities of carrying a pistol in that destination state.

Moreover, in some cases where there is firearm carry reciprocity between our state and others, travelers may need to research local city firearm laws in the destination state. For example, Michigan has firearm carry reciprocity with North Carolina (NC) but individual cities in NC may have stricter laws in effect than at their state level of government.

Further, please also be mindful that it is not lawful to attempt to take a handgun across an international border without being granted specific permission. Thus, do not travel with your handgun if your intent is to visit another country (e.g. Canada, Mexico, and etc.) if you don't have documentation from that country authorizing you to do so.

Consult With The Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) For Firearm Rules On Aircraft

The Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) is a federal agency that has the responsibility of ensuring that our nation's transportation systems are safe for travel and commerce. Accordingly, they have rules in effect regarding the transportation of firearms aboard commercial aircraft.

Thus, the TSA's web site should be consulted by travelers whenever planning a trip with firearms to ensure compliance with federal laws and guidelines. These regulations are strictly enforced. Violations can result in criminal prosecution and civil penalties can be as high as $10,000 per violation.

As of today's date, the TSA's rules for flying with firearms are listed as the following:
  • Firearms, ammunition, and firearm parts may only be transported in checked baggage.
  • Firearms, ammunition and firearm parts are prohibited from carry-on baggage.
  • Travelers must declare all firearms, ammunition, and parts to the airline during the ticket counter check-in process.
  • Black powder or percussion caps used with black-powder are prohibited.
  • The firearm must be unloaded and must be in a locked hard-sided container.
  • TSA inspects all firearm cases at the ticket counter. Travelers should remain in the area designated by the aircraft operator or TSA representative to take the key back after the container is cleared for transportation. If travelers are not present and the security officer must open the container, TSA or the airline will make a reasonable attempt to contact the owner. If contact is not made, the container will not be placed on the aircraft.
  • Travelers must securely pack any ammunition in fiber (such as cardboard), wood or metal boxes or other packaging that is specifically designed to carry small amounts of ammunition.
  • Travelers may not use firearm magazines/clips for packing ammunition unless they completely and securely enclose the ammunition (e.g. by securely covering the exposed portions of the magazine or by securely placing the magazine in a pouch, holder, holster, or lanyard).
  • Ammunition may be carried in the same hard-sided case as the firearm, as long as it follows packing guidelines described above.

Consult With The Specific Airline For Their Firearm Rules

Once the traveler has booked his flight arrangements with an airline, he should consult with their web site for any company specific requirements. Rules for flying with firearms are not uniform across all airlines.

As an exercise, I visited the Delta Airlines web site today and found the following info:
  • We do allow small arms ammunition, in quantities not exceeding 11 lbs. (5 kg) per person, as checked-baggage only. The weapon must be securely boxed and intended for that person's own use. More than one passenger may not combine quantities into one package.
  • Gunpowder (e.g., Pyrodex, black powder, mace, pepper spray, and tear gas) is never permitted.
  • Firearms are permitted as checked-baggage with special requirements.
  • More info on firearms on Delta Airlines planes

Flying Domestically With A Firearm Is Legal But Requires Homework

If it is important to a traveler to take his firearm with him while flying, he should take the appropriate amount of time to learn how to do without running afoul of laws in both the destination state and the destination city, without violating federal TSA rules, and without skirting airline specific rules.

Flying with a handgun is legal if you follow all of the guidelines, rules, and laws.

For more info about Detroit Michigan CCW Classes so that you can legally fly with your handgun, please contact:

Rick's Firearm Academy of Detroit
Phone: 313.733.7404

Have fun and be safe.

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