The matter of personal protection is important to anyone while traveling. When it comes to traveling with weapons, you may have some questions regarding this important matter. Let’s take a look at the most common areas of concern on this topic to help you travel safely and in accordance with the specific regulations.
Knives or Firearms?
When we talk about weapons, most people think of firearms before they think of knives. While knives can be an important part of an EDC outfit and they are a great tool for self-defense, the rules on traveling with knives are more easily understood than traveling with a firearm. For instance, no one is permitted to fly any public airline with a knife on their person or their carry on. All knives must be transported as checked baggage and passed through security. When it comes to driving with a self-defense knife, many states do not necessarily have clear-cut laws on the matter if the knife blade is shorter than a few inches while other states require a larger blade to be considered a concealed weapon in need of a permit. The key for traveling with knives will be to check in on a case by case basis with an official source to get the right answer and avoid any trouble.
Civilian Versus LEO
It is crucial to note that the regulations for traveling with your firearm are dramatically different for a civilian than a law enforcement officer. Before any type of travel with your firearm, you need to determine the related laws for whichever category you are in, and then go from there. This is the most important step in determining how to travel with your firearm safely in accordance with the laws that apply to your classification.
On the Road
The key thing to remember about traveling by way of car with weapons is the matter of your permit and to know the law of the states you are driving through. For instance, if you are familiar with the laws in Florida, but you are visiting Georgia, you could find yourself inadvertently violating laws carrying a hefty fine. While law enforcement officers are permitted to travel in vehicles with their firearm loaded and easily accessible at all times, there is a different set of rules for civilians transporting their firearm. For instance, in most states, if you do not have a concealed carry permit, your firearm is to remain unloaded in a locked case in the trunk of the vehicle at all times. It is also your responsibility to notify an officer of the firearm during any traffic stops which occur while the firearm is in the vehicle. For those with concealed carry permits, the rules are changed that the gun can be transported either anywhere in the vehicle or in specific locations such as the passenger compartment box. The key is to know that each state has different laws pertaining to the transportation of firearms while in a moving vehicle. Your best bet is to check with the regulations of the state you are visiting to be on the safe side. Here is a great resource which might come in handy, http://www.handgunlaw.us/documents/USRVCarCarry-1.pdf
Flying with Weapons
When it comes to flying with weapons for civilians, the rules are pretty clearly stated by the TSA. For instance, a firearm can be in a checked bag, but you must declare it to the TSA agent at the checkpoint, the firearm owner must submit documentation for concealed carry of the firearm, and the weapon must be unloaded and in a locked case at all times during the transport. The bottom line is that if a civilian wants to bring their firearm on a commercial flight in their carry on, the answer is a resounding no from the TSA. The only people allowed to bring a firearm on a commercial flight are law enforcement officers and even then, there is a host of regulations they must meet prior to boarding with their firearm.
The rules for law enforcement officers are in place to keep everyone safe while traveling and ensure proper documentation and procedures are followed. For example, an officer must be a full-time law officer sworn in to enforce and uphold criminal statues at either a national, state, county, or municipal level. They are also required to have an official letter or a National Law Enforcement Telecommunications System or NLETS message prior to traveling which is issued by the employing agency be presented to TSA officials. It is important to note that there must be a need for the weapon to be easily accessible by the officer as determined by the employing agency in order to grant the request. The option to fly with your firearm as an LEO is a request and not a right which is important to remember when dealing with TSA. The officers of the TSA also have an important job to do ensuring public safety, so it is suggested to show the same professional respect you would expect as a fellow professional. Another thing to keep in mind prior to attempting to fly with your firearm as an LEO is that you will need to take a special training class on the matter. This resource is called Law Enforcement Officers Flying Armed and information can be obtained through the TSA website.
When traveling with weapons or more specifically firearms, it is important to understand the rules are different for civilians and officers, but both sets of rules need to be enforced and followed to ensure a safe traveling experience for all involved.