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The Journal Gazette

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette TSA spokesman Mark Howell shows how to properly pack guns when flying on an airplane.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016 5:59 pm

Rules for packing gun for air travel outlined

Frank Gray | The Journal Gazette

In 2014, a total of 2,212 people tried to carry handguns onto commercial airplanes in the United States. One of those incidents happened in Fort Wayne.

In 2015, though, even more people have tried to board planes with guns, and it’s happened five times in Fort Wayne.

And about 90 percent of the time, the guns are loaded. 

With more people flying and more people trying to fly with guns, the Transportation Safety Administration reminds people that it’s illegal to carry guns onto airplanes. If you want to pack a gun in your check-in luggage, you must follow very specific instructions.

The TSA conducted a news conference Tuesday at Fort Wayne International Airport to demonstrate the dos and don’ts of packing guns for air travel.

"It’s out of control almost," said Mark Howell, who is with the TSA. He said it involves mostly people who are new handgun owners or who recently got permits to carry a weapon.

In almost all cases involving people trying to bring guns onto planes in their carry-on luggage or hidden under their coat, people either didn’t realize it’s illegal or forgot they had stashed a gun in a suitcase, Howell said.

"The most common excuse is they didn’t know it was in their bag, or their wife had packed their bag for them," Howell said. 

People who violate the regulations face civil penalties from the TSA of up to $7,500, but they also face criminal penalties, which vary from place to place. In some places, Howell said, you can be automatically arrested for trying to get on a plane with a gun, even if it was a complete accident.

Traveling with a gun is legal, but there are rules that must be followed.w

All guns in check-in luggage must be packed in a hard-sided case with padding on the inside, and the case must have a TSA-approved lock. It is suggested that the gun case be packed inside your regular check-in luggage. Firearms must be unloaded, and ammunition must be stored in separate boxes inside the gun case. Loose ammunition is not permitted. It is also suggested that people tape a business card or a piece of paper with their name and contact information on the outside of the case.

Travelers must declare that they have a firearm in their luggage when they check in at the ticket counter. At the time, they will be given a card verifying that they declared the firearm.

People do try to put loose guns inside their check-in luggage, which is not permitted, Howell said.

Long guns must have as many locks as there are places for locks, so if a long gun case has three spots for locks, it has to have three locks.

Violations of the rules concerning guns are almost always the result of absentmindedness or a lack of education, Howell said. Some people actually don’t know you can’t carry a gun onto a plane, and others aren’t familiar with how to pack a gun in checked luggage. Howell recommended that people who need to carry a gun when they travel go to TSA.gov, where the regulations are explained.

fgray@jg.net