TSA Bully Tactics: Making Travelers Violate Federal Law

This is legal if you pay attention to the rules. Don't let TSA agents bully you in to breaking the law,

This is legal if you pay attention to the rules. Don’t let TSA agents bully you into breaking the law,

When you’re the fastest growing federal bureaucracy in history (that’s NOT a good thing by the way) you get to do pretty much whatever you want, regardless of what the law says. After all, they’ve got uniforms, buy lawyers by the pallet load, and if all else fails, have Eric Holder on their side of the kickball team.

In the case of flying with firearms in checked baggage, the law is short, sweet and intolerably (apparently not for the TSA however) clear. Here it is, as written in the Code of Federal Regulations:

Title 49: Transportation, Part 1540 – Civil Aviation Security: General Rules, Subpart B – Responsibilities of Passengers and Other Individuals and Persons, 1540.111 (c) (iv) – The container in which it is carried is locked, and only the passenger retains the key or combination.

Title 49: Transportation, Part 1544 – Aircraft Operator Security: Air Carriers and Commercial Operators,  Subpart C – Operations, 1544.203 (f) (iii) The container in which it is carried is locked, and only the individual checking the baggage retains the key or combination;

While the emphasis above is mine, the TSA can’t seem to figure out what might be the shortest and simplest federal law on the books, so I added the bold to help them out. I’ve written about this a number of times (here and here for example) in hopes that fellow subjects citizens will know how to travel with firearms according to the law.

Previously, I mentioned that the security folks in the Bend, Oregon airport force travelers to violate the law by surrendering their gun case keys to an agent who inspects the contents of your firearms case in a back room where you are not allowed. More recently, my home airport of Charleston, South Carolina has assumed the same practice. Perhaps the TSA has sharing days at CiCi’s Pizza to swap ideas amongst each other?

Here’s the problem. You are not allowed to surrender your keys or combination to your secure gun case, period. No exceptions are stated for surrendering your key ring to federal employees either. You, and you alone, are responsible for making sure your hard travel case remains locked and under your absolute control. Any variation from that and you are in violation of the law.

Would you care to guess who would win in Judge Judy’s courtroom should something happen with your guns after the TSA opened your case out of your presence? I’ll give you a hint, if it comes to a he said / she said legal argument between the feds and you, you’ll go down faster than Piers Morgan’s ratings.

As I’ve written about before, the law as written rules out use of TSA locks, since by very definition, tens of thousands of people have the “key” to your TSA locks. That’s the entire purpose of TSA locks. They have a “master key” so pretty much anyone can open them.

Back to Charleston. Not long ago, when declaring firearms at the ticket counter, the agent would call downstairs to TSA and request an agent. The TSA agent would walk up a flight of steps to inspect your gun case (in your presence) then allow you to lock it back up. That’s exactly how it’s supposed to work.

Now, TSA no longer wants to walk up the steps or maybe they just prefer to rummage through your gun case in private. They want you to send your keys downstairs, while you wait upstairs, so they can do whatever it is they do. No thanks. I love those spiffy TSA uniforms and all, and nothing makes my day like getting groped in the privates, but as much as I like those folks, I’m not going to violate federal law for them.

What do do?

Leave for the airport early in case you have to have a polite discussion with the agents. Quote the law mentioned above. Better yet, print it out. If you’re not making any headway, request an airport law enforcement officer and explain it to them. It’s a pain. You might miss your flight. But if you don’t start pushing back against abuse of power, you might find yourself resisting involuntary cavity searches before the next season of The Bachelorette is canceled.

10 Things You Need To Know About Flying With Guns

How to fly with guns

Here’s a bold statement.

When you fly the friendly skies, you’ll experience more invasion of privacy, groping and unwanted scrutiny when you walk through the TSA checkpoint than when you try to check guns in your baggage.

I fly enough that the majority of currently employed TSA agents are intimately familiar with every square inch of my body. But groping aside, I’ve found checking guns by following the rules to be a simple and straightforward process – as long as you carefully follow the rules.

Be aware that there are always two sets of rules: those set by the TSA and those set by your airline. In a perfect world, they will be consistent with each other, but be aware, that doesn’t always happen.

Let’s review a checklist for hassle-free flying with guns.

1. Buy or borrow a lockable hard case.

Per the regulations, it can be a case with integrated combinations locks, but I prefer a case with multiple holes for heavy duty padlocks of my choosing. Do NOT use TSA locks on your gun case. This is a misunderstood area of the law and, technically speaking, it’s illegal for you to do so. Per the letter of the law, as discussed in the footnotes of this article, you alone must maintain possession of the keys or combination to open your gun case. You cannot lock it in such a way that others have access. By using TSA locks on your gun case, lots of people, just about anyone in fact, technically has access to your guns. TSA locks are NOT secure and not even TSA agents are supposed to have access to your case, once cleared, without you being present to unlock the case.

One more thing about cases. If you travel with a pistol, you might want to get a larger than necessary case, like this one. You can legally place other items besides your gun in the case, like cameras or computer equipment.

2. Check your airline’s website to review their policies.

While most are essentially the same, they don’t have to be. Print out the policy page to bring with you. With all that ticketing agents need to know, not every agent will have a complete understanding of their airline’s gun policy.

3. Review the TSA policy website for the latest information.

It can, and does, change. That’s your tax dollars at work folks. Print this out also, as different TSA agents have different understandings of their own policy. Really.

4. Unload your gun and magazine.

Complete this step while still at home! Check the chamber to make sure that’s empty. I like to pack my guns in the case with cylinder or action locked open so it’s very apparent the gun is in a safe condition. That’s not required, just good manners.

5. Weigh your gun case and ammunition.

Most airlines will allow up to 11 pounds of ammunition. And, like any luggage, you will be charged more for any baggage weighing more than 50 pounds. This sounds like a lot, but when traveling to the Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun competition last year, my case with shotgun, rifle, pistol and ammunition tipped the scale past the 50 pound mark.

Read the rest at Beretta USA!

Flying With Guns? We Answer The Confusing Questions

Whether you have to fly with a firearm, for work, training or possibly the hunt of a lifetime, or you just want to bring your gun with you for personal security, you need to play nice with the feds.

TSA's worst nightmare? Not if you follow the rules and use a lockable case like this one.

TSA’s worst nightmare? Not if you follow the rules and use a lockable case like this one.Flying

When I travel to states friendly with my concealed carry permit, I almost always travel with a gun. Mainly because it’s my lifestyle choice – I choose to protect my family and myself wherever we are. But there’s an additional reason I choose to tote a gun through inconvenient places like airports. It’s my right and I want to keep the system “acclimated” to dealing with people having guns. If I do my part to make sure the airline ticket counter staff and TSA see guns moving safely through our travel system, day after day, then it continues to be no big deal – as it should be. If we all succumb to the pressure of our friendly, helpful and honest government making traveling with a firearm “too much trouble” then the “terrorists win,” so to speak.

With that said, let’s take a look at a couple of the more ambiguous questions about flying with guns…

Question: You mean I can fly on a commercial airline with a gun???

Answer: It’s shocking how many people are shocked by this. Why yes, you can. Provided of course that you are going from a point of origination where you can legally have that gun to another destination where you can legally possess that gun. Rather than regurgitate the basic process here, I’ll point you to the TSA’s own page for the latest regulations. Print a copy of this to bring with you the day before you leave as the page content changes frequently. Also, check your airlines policy before you go. I’ve linked to a number of airline policies later in this article.

Question: Can the TSA, or their contracted agents, inspect my guns in the secure area or back room – in other words, outside of my direct presence?

Answer: I don’t believe they can. Does that mean they won’t? Nope. If you haven’t learned by now that people who work for the federal government do whatever the heck they want until slapped silly until even more senseless, then you’ve been inhaling too much Hoppe’s #9. Case in point. I flew through Bend, Oregon last year – an airport accustomed to shooting industry folks toting around all sorts of firearms. At Bend, the security process calls for passengers to declare firearms with the ticket agent, then send it on back via the baggage belt. You’ll be advised to listen for your name over the speakers when TSA is ready to inspect your firearms case. At that point, TSA agents request your keys so they can go back into the secure area, without you, and inspect your firearms case. After inspection, they page you to return your keys.

Why do I believe this practice is illegal? Mainly because the internet says so, and angry mobs are occasionally right about stuff. I also find two direct references in the Code of Federal Regulations.

Title 49: Transportation, Part 1540 – Civil Aviation Security: General Rules, Subpart B – Responsibilities of Passengers and Other Individuals and Persons, 1540.111 (c) (iv) – The container in which it is carried is locked, and only the passenger retains the key or combination.

Title 49: Transportation, Part 1544 – Aircraft Operator Security: Air Carriers and Commercial Operators,  Subpart C – Operations, 1544.203 (f) (iii) The container in which it is carried is locked, and only the individual checking the baggage retains the key or combination;

Federal regulations controlling the passenger and airline acceptance of passenger luggage both clearly specify that the passenger, and only the passenger, retains the key. There are no exceptions stated.

So what to do when flying through an airport like Bend? That depends on how badly you need to make your flight. You can respectfully resist. And you will miss your flight. Because the feds know they can afford way more lawyers than you. You can bring along some printouts from the Code of Federal Regulations for show and tell. You’ll probably still miss your flight. I suggest respectfully  raising the issue and pointing to the regulations. They just might accommodate your request to be present during inspection. Or they might tell you to pound sand, because they have way more lawyers than you.

Read the rest at OutdoorHub.com!

Be sure to check out our latest book, The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition. It’s available in print and Kindle format at Amazon:

The Rookie's Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition

The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition

TSA Challenge: 5.11 Tactical Gear vs. Regular Luggage

Just arrived back in the home town from SHOT Show 2012 only to find that 3 out of 4 pieces of our regular luggage were searched by TSA. The 5.11 very tactical looking gear we carried through the checkpoints sailed right on through.

Conclusions? We have no idea, but would bet lunch that TSA at McCarran Airport in Las Vegas is going to run out of “We molested your luggage” cards today and tomorrow.

Half-Cocked: Uncle Heebie-Jeebie’s New Career…

Uncle Heebie-Jeebies New Career

Uncle Heebie-Jeebies New Career

New TSA Screening Procedure

Coming soon to an airport near you! No word yet as to whether passengers will have to cough.

As a side note, we regret to inform our readers that the entire editorial staff of My Gun Culture will be placed on the “no fly” list any moment now.

TSA Enhanced Screening Techniques

TSA Enhanced Screening Techniques

Our TSA Penance: A Quick Reference Guide to Anti-Gun Terminology

Caution! Don't Mess with the TSA!

Caution! Don't Mess with the TSA!

As part of our community service sentence resulting from incessant teasing and general display of ill will towards the TSA (here, here, here, and here) and a recent airport altercation, we’re promoting a free quick reference guide to common terminology used by anti-gun rights organizations.

OK fine. If you really must know, on a recent trip to Audubon, Iowa to see Albert the Bull (The World’s Largest Concrete Bull and considered by many to represent the perfect Hereford), we were directed into the ‘get cancer while people take nude photos of you‘ scanner. Being good patriots, we resisted this invasion on our privacy and cellular reproductive capacity and were subjected to a manual ding-a-ling massage therapy session. Once cleared, and after a quick smoke, our TSA agent requested ‘a little something extra for his services. We were insulted as we’ve never paid for it in our lives and we weren’t about to start now. One thing led to another, hurtful things were said, and here we are, writing public service announcements as penance.

Enough about the mile-high club at sea level – let’s get to the important and informative educational content. Organizations such as The Brady Campaign, The Violence Policy Center, and the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, use a lot of fancy words and sound bites to convince folks that their fairy sheep-toast ideas will create a hope and change filled society of love, harmony, free kiwi fruit and tambourine festivals. Here’s a list of the more common words and phrases along with handy real-english definitions to help you understand what’s good for you.

Anti-Gun Terminology Quick Reference Guide
Common Sense Gun Laws Total disarmament followed by spaying or neutering as appropriate. More information on common sense gun laws here.
Law Abiding Citizens Satan and his minions. If you’re reading this, you’re a minion. Start acting the part will you?
The Police chief is opposed to this pro-gun legislation It’s re-election time and he or she has not managed to reduce crime on their watch. A new scapegoat is desperately needed and the next Blame Someone Else Day is not until January 13, 2012.
Assault weapons All guns, regardless of form factor or function. Air guns, toy guns, and squirt guns are not necessarily excluded from this classification.
Assault Weapon Ban Complete disarmament followed by an encore happy-fun neutering festival. See Common sense gun laws above.
Handgun Glock
Second Amendment That pesky 200 year old slice of tree bark that prevents formation of a progressive dictatorship that will be good for us. Really, it will.
Gun Crime / Gun Violence If you’re going to get mugged, assaulted, raped, or murdered, make sure that your attacker is using a gun. If they assault, rape, or kill you with some other implement than a gun, it doesn’t count and your status as a victim is greatly diminished. You will definitely not be invited to Victim Recovery Programs and other fun and exciting social events.
Gun Lobby Usually refers to the main entrance of Cabelas and other large outdoor retailers. According to many of our pusillanimous politicians, gun lobbies are evil. Better use the back door next time you visit a gun store.
National Rifle Association The ultimate manifestation of guilt by ‘association.’
Campus Concealed Weapons / Guns on Campus A legislative movement that will force underage college students to wantonly fire assault weapons at cute baby squirrels while performing keg stands.
Gun Show Loophole A mystical portal located in the netherlands of Narnia.
Victim Any person who sees a pistol, rifle, or squirt gun in the hands of anyone other than a duly authorized United Nations World Peace Officer.

TSA Checkpoint! Please leave personal items in the down and locked position

TSA Checkpoint Signage: Truth in Advertising

TSA Checkpoint Signage: Truth in Advertising

This one speaks for itself I think. No commentary necessary…

Want the t-shirt?

Caution TSA Checkpoint T-Shirt shirt
Caution TSA Checkpoint T-Shirt by mygunculture
Browse our store for more fun stuff!

Napolitano Announces TSA Porta Porn Scan 3000

TSA Porta Porn Scan 3000 Eyeglasses

TSA Porta Porn Scan 3000 Eyeglasses

In a Department of Homeland Security press conference today, Secretary Janet Napolitano announced sweeping new additions to the nations security network. As part of the recent efforts to broaden security measures to venues other than TSA major transportation hubs, the Secretary unveiled the latest in portable body scan technology – the Porta Porn Scan 3000 system.

Jointly developed and manufactured by detection system manufacturing partners Rapiscan Systems and L-3 Security and Detection Systems, the Porta Porn Scan 3000 enables government employees to ogle your junk in nearly any location nationwide. The Porta Porn Scan 3000 is packaged entirely in nearly ordinary looking glasses, thereby eliminating the need for suspects to ‘spread-em’ in large radiation emitting machinery. Offered at the government contract rate of $1 plus $.25 shipping COD, the Porn Scans will be broadly available to most federal employees.

“We’ve got Wal-Mart employees watching you, so the next logical step is to allow your mail carrier, IRS agent, and DMV clerk to check your booty for any suspicious materials” stated Napolitano. “Of course this really really ramps up the effectiveness of our Wal-Mart program as well. Now the greeters will have a fair opportunity to check out people’s junk as they enter the store.”

Some remain skeptical about the potential effectiveness of the Porta Porn Scan 3000 eyeglasses. Pointing to studies indicating a 70% failure rate of existing advanced imaging scan systems, economist John Lott asks “Really, how can technology costing $1.25 delivered be expected to reliably detect any form of threat?”

When pressed to respond to growing criticism, Napolitano offered the following explanation. “We’re quite confident in this technology. We’ve seen and studied the ads quite carefully. Besides, there’s a money back guarantee, so we’re covered either way.”

BATFE and TSA Request Emergency Authority To Install Body Scanners

TSA Full Body Scanning

TSA Full Body Scanning (Photo: thebredafallacy.com and thedrudgereport.com)

In a rare display of cross agency cooperation, The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives – BATFE –  announced a sweeping partnership with the Transportation Security Administration – TSA – designed to end violence along the Mexican border.

In a joint statement, the BATFE and TSA agencies requested emergency authority to install body scanners at firearms dealers located within 250 miles of the border. The intent of the new program is to eliminate the largest supply line of illegal weapons flow to Mexican drug cartels – undie assault weapon smuggling. The dragnet is expected to include nearly 8,500 firearms dealers.


Assault Rifle Hidden in Fruit of the Loom Thong

“We know that drug cartels are specially modifying BVD’s, Fruit of the Loom Men’s High Fashion Bikini Briefs, and other unknown undergarments to hold automatic weapons purchased from unethical firearms dealers” commented Janet Napolitano, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. “We believe this to be the number one source of illicit weapons causing the violence along our border. You’d be amazed at how many M-249 machine guns a good string bikini style can hide. We’ve made great progress already by shutting down the Wal-Mart Snuggie smuggling operation and now its time to turn our attention elsewhere.”

The plan of the new operation is to force prospective gun store customers to undergo a full body scan using TSA new millimeter wave and backscatter advanced imaging machines. “The idea is to catch people on the way in who may be wearing suspicious thong underwear” explained TSA spokesperson and former Iraqi Information Minister Muhammed Saeed al-Sahaf. “Of course we’re also looking to spot any really hot Mexican Senoritas who may happen to come in the stores. You never know when we might get lucky.”

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