TSA explains the right way to travel with a gun

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Transportation Security Administration representatives say they’re seeing an uptick in people incorrectly packing their guns for travel.

Travelers are not supposed to bring guns to the TSA security checkpoint. However, officials are seeing more people doing just that.

When traveling with a firearm, passengers have to take certain precautions.

Guns must be packed in a hard-sided case that’s padded on the inside, said Mark Howell, a TSA regional spokesperson.

“When you’re traveling with a firearm, the most important thing you need to do is you need to make sure it’s completely unloaded,” he said.

That means no magazines or rounds chambered.

TSA representatives demonstrate the right way to travel with a gun, which is shown in a padded gun case. (WFLA)

Everything must be put safely inside the case, except for ammunition. Howell said the ammunition needs to be stored securely and separately from the firearm. People also need to make sure their cases are locked.

“Once you get to the airport, you’re going to bring that firearm directly to the airline ticket counter, and you’re going to let them know that you’re traveling with a firearm,” Howell said. “They’re going to give you a card to fill out, it’s called a ‘Declaration Card,’ and that lets the airline, TSA, know that you’re traveling with a gun.”

Howell said they have had a total of 137 firearms come through the checkpoint in Tampa this year compared to 131 in 2022.

“Since permitless carry went into effect earlier this year, you’ve got a lot more people carrying firearms, and with that, you’re going to see more guns come to the security checkpoint,” he said.

Representatives said passengers can take more than one firearm, but they will not see their guns until they get to their destination — after they have gone through the proper steps.

“Check with your airline to find out where you should pick it up,” Howell said. “What we recommend, is if you have a firearm case like this, and it fits into your suitcase, just pack it in your suitcase. But some airlines will require you to pick up a case, if it’s packaged separately like this, from their baggage office. So, check with your airline on how to do that.”

He said always plan and research before traveling with a weapon.

Those who do not declare a firearm could be subject to a civil penalty by TSA, which Howell said can be up to $15,000.

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