Firearms In Parking Lots
Carrying Firearms In An Airport
It is LEGAL to carry a firearm open or concealed in an airport to the airline ticket counters, baggage claim and other non secure areas. The law (76-8-311.1) states a "secure area" may not include any area normally accessible to the public. Although it is legal to open carry in an airport, use common sense due to previous attacks and heightened threats to airports, airlines, airplanes and people, you may be closely monitored and/or approached by airport police/security to ensure the safety of everyone in the airport.
• Class A Misdemeanor if you knowingly or intentionally possesses a firearm, or
• Infraction (a minor offense like a traffic ticket) if you recklessly or with criminal negligence possesses a firearm.
• Bringing a firearm to the security checkpoint will lead to a civil penalty of up to $13,333 and may include an arrest. The amount of the fine depends on the item and condition. See the TSA fine schedule below.
If you are a TSA Pre✓® member, you will lose your status.
Flying With Firearms & Ammunition
You must be at least 18 years old to transport firearms, ammunition, and NFA firearms
Transporting firearms and ammunition while flying is not as difficult as many people make it sound. Yes, you must follow strict requirements by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), airline regulations, and follow all State and Federal laws, but we have done all the work for you.
Following the steps described below will help ensure you get your firearms and ammunition to your destination safely.
Step 1 ‐ Planning Your Flight
If you want to take a firearm on your trip you must ensure you have the best information available to make sure you travel with your firearm correctly.
Ask yourself these questions:
• Am I traveling domestically (within the U.S.) and does the state I am traveling to have any firearm, ammunition, magazine capacity or other restrictions?
• Am I traveling internationally (outside the U.S.)? There are very strict laws and requirements for taking firearms and ammunition to other countries.
• Am I taking the firearm for self-defense, to go hunting, moving, going to a firearm training course, etc.?
When possible, try to fly nonstop to your destination. Even if you do not have any layovers, planned stops or intentions of being in a particular state (California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Washington D.C., etc.) you must take into consideration the possibility that flights may be delayed, canceled or diverted, for any reason, even reasons out of your control such as a mechanical issue with the plane, bad weather, etc., and you are diverted to a different airport including an airport in another state which has restrictive firearm, ammunition and/or magazine capacity laws.
Federal law, USC 926 A. Interstate transportation of firearms, is supposed to protect you when traveling from point A to point B without any problems as long as you are legally allowed to have the firearm and the firearm/item itself is legal from your departure point and destination.
The issue occurs if you have to pick up your checked luggage at the baggage claim. You may have to spend the night and take the firearm from the airport to the hotel then back to the airport again. Given ridiculous laws that some states have, there is a chance that your firearm, ammunition and/or magazine could be illegal in that state and you may be arrested, even if it's not your fault your flight was diverted, canceled or delayed.
If you have to stay the night in a state with any restrictions on the firearm and/or ammunition in your luggage, ask the airline if they can hold your luggage and forward it to the appropriate destination before claiming your bag or taking it out of the airport.
Step 2 ‐ Check Airline Regulations
The following are major airline carriers in the United States.
Click on the picture to view their firearm and ammunition policies.
SkyWest: Operates with United Airlines, Delta Airlines, American Airlines and Alaska Airlines.
Envoy & American Eagle: Operates under American Airlines.
Virgin America: Bought out by Alaska Airlines in 2018
Virgin Atlantic (International Airline): Operates under Virgin Airlines.
Ensure you know the correct policies or contact the airline for more information.
Step 3 ‐ Packing Your Carry-On & Checked Luggage
Take everything out of the bag(s) you are taking on your trip. Check ALL pockets, zipper pouches, etc. to ensure you do not have any prohibited items BEFORE you start packing your luggage.
These Items Are Allowed In Carry On & Checked Luggage
• Scopes, optics, sights, and binoculars, holsters (obviously without the firearm in it), flashlights, empty shell casings as long as the projectile has been removed, and primer has been removed or has been discharged. If the projectile is attached & the powder has been drilled out, it is considered a replica and not allowed in carry-on.
These Items Are Allowed In Checked Luggage But Prohibited In Carry On Luggage
Firearms, firearm parts including frames, grips, receivers, magazines, clips, bolts, firing pins, plastic training firearms, airsoft, paintball or compressed air guns, flare guns, pellet guns, starter pistols, replica firearms or toy firearms.
Ammunition parts including bullets, casings, fired bullets.
None of these items are allowed past the security checkpoint.
These Items Are Prohibited In Carry On & Checked Luggage
Black powder, primers, and percussion caps used with black powder type firearms
CO2 Cartridges (allowed only for medical purposes and life vests)
See all items allowed and prohibited in TSA's What Can I Bring?
Step 4 ‐ Packing Your Firearms & Ammunition
Handuns, Rifles & Shotguns
• ALL firearms must be unloaded as defined by Federal law. 49 CFR 1540.5 states, "Loaded firearm means a firearm that has a live round of ammunition, or any component thereof, in the chamber or cylinder or in a magazine inserted in the firearm."
This means you cannot have ANY ammunition in the firearm
If you are traveling out of state and you want to transport your legally owned short-barreled rifle, short-barreled shotgun, machine gun or destructive device, you are required to have prior written authorization from the ATF as stated in USC 922(a)(4). You must make requests in writing at least 45 days before your travel, using ATF Form 5320.20 Application to Transport NFA Firearms. If it is approved the ATF will return the form to you. You must provide a copy of the form to the airline and keep a copy with the item(s) at all times.
If you do not have this form you CANNOT take the NFA firearm!
The ATF approval only authorizes the transportation of the NFA weapon(s).
All state and federal laws and regulations still apply.
Suppressors & AOW: While this form is not needed for transporting suppressors and items defined as Any Other Weapon (AOWs), it is still a good idea to have one for them.
• Ammunition must be packed in fiber (such as cardboard), wood or metal boxes or other packaging that is specifically designed to carry small amounts of ammunition. TSA does not specifically say how much is a "small amount" but most airlines do have additional restrictions on baggage due to weight.
- Small arms ammunition, including ammunition not exceeding .75 caliber and shotgun shells of any gauge, may be carried in the same hard-sided case as the firearm. Individual airlines may establish more stringent requirements and some may want it packed in a different hard-sided case from the firearm.
- Firearm magazines and ammunition clips, if loaded, must completely and securely enclose the ammunition. Something must securely cover the exposed portions of the ammunition or by securely placing the magazine/clip in a pouch or holder. Additional airline restrictions may apply.
If you are flying for the purpose of attending a training course, ammunition is heavy. With luggage weight limits and restrictions for number of bags, flying with even as little as 200 rounds of ammunition can mean additional baggage fees. A far more reasonable option (if available) may be to purchase your ammunition at your destination or online and have it shipped directly to your destination. Contact the training company or instructor and ask about accommodations for shipping ammunition. The training company or instructor may also have ammunition available for purchase.
Hard Sided Container
• Firearms and ammunition must be locked in a hard-sided container that completely secures the firearm and ammunition from being accessed. If the case has 3 holes to place a lock, then put a lock on ALL 3 places. Cases that can be easily opened, even if it has a lock, are not permitted.
Do not have anything on the case to hint that it contains a firearm.
The TSA website says, "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."
This can cause serious issues because TSA contradicts itself in this statement and is a violation of Federal law.
The statement above is similar to Federal law 49 CFR 1540.111 (c)(2)(iv) which says, "The container in which it is carried is locked, and only the passenger retains the key or combination." The issue is that TSA-recognized locks can be purchased from many different online and retail businesses. All TSA locks can be unlocked using the same key. Therefore, anyone that has a TSA-recognized lock and key would be able to unlock the case containing your firearm which violates Federal law that "only the passenger retains the key or combination".
DO NOT use a TSA-approved lock. Use a padlock or combination lock and do not give a key or the combination to anyone.
Step 5 ‐ Arriving at the airport
You cannot use the "curb check-in" for any luggage containing a firearm or ammunition.
• All luggage that contains a firearm and/or ammunition must be checked at the airline ticket counter.
• You must notify the ticket agent that you have a firearm and/or ammunition in your luggage. A good way to communicate this without causing panic is quietly telling the agent, “My checked luggage contains an unloaded firearm and/or ammunition which is in compliance with TSA regulations and Federal law.”
Once you have declared the firearm and/or ammunition, the agent will have you fill out a Firearm Declaration Form indicating that your firearm is unloaded.
If the case is a large rifle case, place the form inside the case with the firearm and/or ammunition. If the case is a small pistol case inside your checked luggage, place the form inside the luggage. It's highly recommended that you ensure your luggage is also locked so no one can access the hard case.
• If the airline does not take your luggage, you may have to take it to the TSA luggage check area. We highly recommend, if possible, that you stay with your luggage until it has been checked and accepted. If the Transportation Security Officer (TSO) needs to open your baggage to inspect the firearm and/or ammunition you will need to unlock the hard-sided case. If you are not present, TSA or the airline will make a reasonable attempt to contact you. If you are not available or do not respond, TSA may cut any locks or not accept the luggage.
Federal law prohibits unlocked gun cases (or cases with broken locks) on aircraft. Your firearm will not be placed on the aircraft and it will be turned over to law enforcement.
Once your luggage is accepted, you can go through security checkpoint. If TSA does open your luggage for any reason and you are not present, they are required to put a Notice of Inspection Tag inside your luggage.
Step 6 ‐ During Your Travel
We all know that luggage can be lost or stolen, you may have unfortunately had to deal with that on a previous trip. To decrease time spent worrying about your firearms, ammunition and/or luggage we recommend getting some type of luggage tracking product.
A great product called Gego is smaller, but thicker than a credit card and uses GPS and Bluetooth to track your luggage anywhere in the world from your smartphone. The device itself costs almost $100 and does require a monthly service plan but the fee is less than $8 a month and you can cancel at anytime. The smartphone application is also free on both Android and Apple devices.
You may also want to look into insurance policies that cover lost luggage and/or firearms.
Step 7 - Arriving At Your Destination & Picking Up Your Luggage
When you arrive at your destination, go directly from the plane to the baggage claim and position yourself where the luggage emerges on the carousel. You want as few people as possible between you and your baggage to prevent it from being stolen. If your luggage does not arrive, it may have been taken to the airlines luggage office, over-sized luggage or overweight areas. You may or may not be asked to provide identification to retrieve your luggage.
Before leaving the area find a discreet area and without causing alarm, always check the contents of your luggage as soon as possible after arrival to ensure nothing was stolen or tampered with. Open your bag and visually confirm the hard case is still in your luggage and none of the locks or the case itself has been tampered with. If there are signs of tampering make sure you open the case immediately to confirm your firearm(s) and/or ammunition is/are accounted for. NEVER take the firearm(s) and/or ammunition out of the case.
Report any missing and/or stolen baggage or item(s) immediately to the airline. It's a good idea to have a Firearms Identification Card which has the make, model, caliber, serial number and value of all firearms that you are transporting. It can also list any modifications that were made the firearm and all accessories such as number of magazines, holsters, rounds of ammunition, etc. Keep the list on your person, not in any luggage.
TSA Fine Schedule
The Enforcement Sanction Guidance Policy in its entirety, including civil penalty ranges for regulated entities.
1. Security Violations by Individuals for Prohibited Items Discovered at Checkpoint/Sterile Area/Onboard Aircraft
A. Firearms, Realistic Firearm Replicas, and Shocking Devices
i. Loaded firearms (or unloaded firearms with accessible ammunition) $3,000-$7,500 + Criminal Referral
ii. Unloaded firearms $1,500-$3,000 + Criminal Referral
iii. BB, pellet, and compressed-air guns; flare and starter pistols; realistic replicas of firearms (including gun lighters); permanently inert firearms; spear guns; stun guns, cattle prods, or other shocking devices $250-$1,500
iv. Firearm parts $250-$1,500
v. Silencers, mufflers, frames and/or receivers $1,500-$3,000 + Criminal Referral
2. Security Violations for Prohibited Items Discovered in Checked Baggage
i. Loaded firearms $1,000-$2,000 + Criminal Referral
ii. Undeclared and/or improperly packaged firearms $500-$1,000
• For additional information you can download the TSA Fact Sheet, see the prohibited items, read the TSA website for transporting firearms and ammunition, view items discovered in baggage which is updated weekly on the TSA Blog or contact the TSA Contact Center with questions you have regarding TSA firearm regulations and for clarification on what you may or may not transport in your carry-on or checked baggage.
76-10-529. Possession of dangerous weapons, firearms, or explosives in airport secure areas prohibited -- Penalty.
(1) As used in this section:
(a) "Airport authority" has the same meaning as defined in Section 72-10-102.
(b) "Dangerous weapon" is the same as defined in Section 76-10-501.
(c) "Explosive" is the same as defined for "explosive, chemical, or incendiary device" in Section 76-10-306.
(d) "Firearm" is the same as defined in Section 76-10-501.
(2)(a) Within a secure area of an airport established pursuant to this section, a person, including a person licensed to carry a concealed firearm under Title 53, Chapter 5, Part 7, Concealed Firearm Act, is guilty of:
(i) a class A misdemeanor if the person knowingly or intentionally possesses any dangerous weapon or firearm;
(ii) an infraction if the person recklessly or with criminal negligence possesses any dangerous weapon or firearm; or
(iii) a violation of Section 76-10-306 if the person transports, possesses, distributes, or sells any explosive, chemical, or incendiary device.
(b) Subsection (2)(a) does not apply to:
(i) persons exempted under Section 76-10-523; and
(ii) members of the state or federal military forces while engaged in the performance of their official duties.
(3) An airport authority, county, or municipality regulating the airport may:
(a) establish any secure area located beyond the main area where the public generally buys tickets, checks and retrieves luggage; and
(b) use reasonable means, including mechanical, electronic, x-ray, or any other device, to detect dangerous weapons, firearms, or explosives concealed in baggage or upon the person of any individual attempting to enter the secure area.
(4) At least one notice shall be prominently displayed at each entrance to a secure area in which a dangerous weapon, firearm, or explosive is restricted.
(5) Upon the discovery of any dangerous weapon, firearm, or explosive, the airport authority, county, or municipality, the employees, or other personnel administering the secure area may:
(a) require the individual to deliver the item to the air freight office or airline ticket counter;
(b) require the individual to exit the secure area; or
(c) obtain possession or retain custody of the item until it is transferred to law enforcement officers.
18 U.S.C. 922 Unlawful acts
(e) It shall be unlawful for any person knowingly to deliver or cause to be delivered to any common or contract carrier for transportation or shipment in interstate or foreign commerce, to persons other than licensed importers, licensed manufacturers, licensed dealers, or licensed collectors, any package or other container in which there is any firearm or ammunition without written notice to the carrier that such firearm or ammunition is being transported or shipped; except that any passenger who owns or legally possesses a firearm or ammunition being transported aboard any common or contract carrier for movement with the passenger in interstate or foreign commerce may deliver said firearm or ammunition into the custody of the pilot, captain, conductor or operator of such common or contract carrier for the duration of the trip without violating any of the provisions of this chapter. No common or contract carrier shall require or cause any label, tag, or other written notice to be placed on the outside of any package, luggage, or other container that such package, luggage, or other container contains a firearm.
Do not write “Guns inside!” on your baggage and don’t let the airline do it either.
18 U.S.C. 921. Definitions
Defines firearms, ammunition, etc.
18 U.S.C. 926A. Interstate transportation of firearms
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.
49 CFR 175.10 Exceptions for passengers, crewmembers, and air operators.
(a) This subchapter does not apply to the following hazardous materials when carried by aircraft passengers or crewmembers provided the requirements of §§171.15 and 171.16 (see paragraph (c) of this section) and the requirements of this section are met:
(8) Small arms ammunition for personal use carried by a crewmember or passenger in checked baggage only, if securely packed in boxes or other packagings specifically designed to carry small amounts of ammunition. Ammunition clips and magazines must also be securely boxed. This paragraph does not apply to persons traveling under the provisions of 49 CFR 1544.219.
49 CFR 1540.5 Terms used in this subchapter.
Loaded firearm means a firearm that has a live round of ammunition, or any component thereof, in the chamber or cylinder or in a magazine inserted in the firearm.
49 CFR 1540.111 Carriage of weapons, explosives, and incendiaries by individuals.
(a) On an individual's person or accessible property—prohibitions. Except as provided in paragraph (b) of this section, an individual may not have a weapon, explosive, or incendiary, on or about the individual's person or accessible property—
(1) When performance has begun of the inspection of the individual's person or accessible property before entering a sterile area, or before boarding an aircraft for which screening is conducted under this subchapter;
(2) When the individual is entering or in a sterile area; or
(3) When the individual is attempting to board or onboard an aircraft for which screening is conducted under §§1544.201, 1546.201, or 1562.23 of this chapter.
(b) On an individual's person or accessible property—permitted carriage of a weapon. Paragraph (a) of this section does not apply as to carriage of firearms and other weapons if the individual is one of the following:
(1) Law enforcement personnel required to carry a firearm or other weapons while in the performance of law enforcement duty at the airport.
(2) An individual authorized to carry a weapon in accordance with §§1544.219, 1544.221, 1544.223, 1546.211, or subpart B of part 1562 of this chapter.
(3) An individual authorized to carry a weapon in a sterile area under a security program.
(c) In checked baggage. A passenger may not transport or offer for transport in checked baggage or in baggage carried in an inaccessible cargo hold under §1562.23 of this chapter:
(1) Any loaded firearm(s).
(2) Any unloaded firearm(s) unless—
(i) The passenger declares to the aircraft operator, either orally or in writing, before checking the baggage, that the passenger has a firearm in his or her bag and that it is unloaded;
(ii) The firearm is unloaded;
(iii) The firearm is carried in a hard-sided container; and
(iv) The container in which it is carried is locked, and only the passenger retains the key or combination.
(3) Any unauthorized explosive or incendiary.
(d) Ammunition. This section does not prohibit the carriage of ammunition in checked baggage or in the same container as a firearm. Title 49 CFR part 175 provides additional requirements governing carriage of ammunition on aircraft.