Airport firearm experience

Discussion in 'Off-topic' started by kkennett, Nov 10, 2006.

  1. kkennett

    kkennett New Member

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    Thought I would share my recent airport firearm experience from this past Saturday night at Hartsfield. I was headed out to a week long conference in Detroit and, as usual, had my revolver in a small hard case in a larger clothes bag. {My pregnant wife was with me - other kids staying at home with grandparents.} I declared it to the Delta agent, who handed me the orange tag and watched as I stuck it in the case. He put the bag on the regular belt and I asked him, "Shouldn't I take that myself to the TSA oversized scanner across the hall like I always do?" He said no, it would be fine.

    Well, I go through security, out to my concourse, wait around for the flight, and then go to get on. Hand the lady my boarding card and the machine goes crazy. I have been flagged and must return 'landside' and will not be getting on this plane. :x

    My wife and I go back out of security to the Delta ticket counter to find three TSA agents and an APD cop waiting for me. They say, "We found an undeclared firearm in your bag." I reply, "Oh yeah it's declared and the orange tag will prove it." Anyway, I open up the case and the officer sees the orange tag and says, 'yep, it's declared' and begins a rather uncomfortable discussion with the Delta people. To their credit, the TSA and the APD guy were very polite to us and in fact very apologetic after they saw the tag. Though they were just doing their jobs, they said they hated to see conscientious people harrassed. The adjacent Delta lady began to get very rude and defensive. :twisted: I tell her that they better take care of us, as this is a serious customer service issue. Let's just leave it at she and I didn't get along. Even my wife got up in her face. I demand to talk to the station manager. She goes and gets this manager, who listens attentively to me. The cop and the TSA guys stay to back me up. My wife and I were given first class upgrades on the next flight. The manager lady also was very apologetic and wanted me to point out specifically the original gate agent who made the mistake, so she could take care of it. It took me several hours for my blood pressure to return to normal.

    Anyway, I've checked a firearm many times and this was my first negative experience. Kudos to the TSA and police for courteous and professional behavior. No problems on the return trip. Lesson here: whatever you do, don't listen to the ticket agent. Take the bag yourself to the TSA guy at the large item check in.
     
  2. Manwell

    Manwell New Member

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    I travel a fair amount by air and have recently made the decision to start checking a firearm. Guess I’ve always been a little nervous about it and really have no reason to be. I’ve read about the experiences of many and overall they are good and people have not had problems.

    Thanks for sharing your story… I’m glad to hear that Delta made it right at the end of the day.

    Manwell
     

  3. adams020604

    adams020604 New Member

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    I work for TSA in atlanta,ga and I'm glad to hear of your positive experience. I hope you and your wife and enjoyable trip and hope that you have more to come. Frankly, I have seen delta do worse than that, and understand why they are filing for bankruptcy.
     
  4. Malum Prohibitum

    Malum Prohibitum Moderator Staff Member

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    NOW you are going to be peppered with a thousand questions . . . :D
     
  5. Tinkerhell

    Tinkerhell Active Member

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    Traveling with your gun?

    Is it normally pretty straight forward when traveling with your firearm? I'm about to tkae a trip to Co for a week of snow & skiing and this is the first time I will have my GFL. Naturally I would like to take my walther with me. What the correct proceedure - it's in the hard carrry case, tucked into my "checked" baggage. I just declare it when I first get to the airport & then go to the TSA stand? What about ammo? Can that be carried on as well? Can it be in the same hard case as my pistol or does it need to be seperated?

    :?:

    Thanks for the words of advice!
     
  6. Tinkerhell

    Tinkerhell Active Member

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    Thanks for that link.
    I don't have a "locking" hard case.. Wonder if I can pick one up locally. Guess I'll find out!
     
  7. Malum Prohibitum

    Malum Prohibitum Moderator Staff Member

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    Walmart has them. The only big deal I have ever had is that in Colorado one time the Delta lady wanted to take my gun, unlocked, out of my sight to the TSA people. I put my foot down that she would do no such thing and insisted that if the TSA people wanted to check out my firearm, they could do so in my presence and lock it in my presence, returning the key to me.

    The TSA guy was great, but the Delta lady was really ticked off that I dared to stand my ground. Here it is in more detail.

    My advice- print out the regs of the TSA (the link above will probably suffice) and the regs of the airline you are flying, then keep them in a folder with your tickets, itinerary, rental car information, and hotel reservation. Keep this with you or with your carry on so that you have them to refer to (with bright yellow highlighting) if needed. Keep the ammunition in the cardboard box in which it was purchased and stick it in your checked baggage. Put a lock on your suitcase.


    Colorado is a great place to visit. Almost NOTHING is off limits, so it really does feel like a vacation from Georgia's restrictive gun laws.
     
  8. Malum Prohibitum

    Malum Prohibitum Moderator Staff Member

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    DON'T BE MISTAKEN FOR A HIJACKER
    Anti-piracy system threatens hoodlums, not lawful hunters
    By AMERICAN RIFLEMAN STAFF

    Last year and the year before, hijackers seized an alarming total of 46 U.S. passenger airliners, with Cuba the usual destination.

    So far this year, the hijacking rate has dropped off sharply. Some credit for this may be due to electronic precautions taken to detect armed air pirates before they board planes. A three-step anti-hijacking system has been developed by the Federal Aviation Administration to screen airline passengers and deter hijacking.

    Inevitably, this kind of precaution raises questions as to whether sportsmen, laden with hunting guns and knives, camp hatchets and similar gear, may not sometimes find themselves suspect of being hijackers. For this reason, THE AMERICAN RIFLEMAN undertook an extensive inquiry with the full cooperation of Federal officials. The finding:

    Nothing to fear

    To all indications, reputable gun owners, whether hunters, competitors or sportsmen in general, have nothing to fear from the Federal anti-hijacking measures as long as they follow a few simple rules. By doing so, they will avoid embarrassment and inadvertent violation of air travel regulations.

    Although firearms have figured in the majority of U.S. airliner hijackings, the anti-hijacking device in most common use could cast suspicion on your hunting knife or hatchet just as readily as on a handgun.

    Perhaps this is as it should be. Official figures indicate that while guns were drawn in 49 hijackings, knives were the principal weapon in 20, and bombs, real or alleged, figured in 13. (Also used: razors, a BB gun, a tear gas pen, a Broken bottle.)

    Under Federal law, no one but a law enforcement officer possessing a special FAA certificate may board an airliner with a firearm on his person. Nor may a passenger carry-on his person a knife with a blade six inches or longer.

    Violators are subject to a $1000 fine and a one year jail sentence.

    However, the air travelling gun owner is in complete compliance with the law if he: (1) presents his guns to the airline customer service people at the terminal for special handling en route; or (2) checks his cased guns with his other baggage and notifies the airline that he has guns in his baggage. In both instances, guns must be unloaded. Knives with blades six inches and longer, and hatchets should also be checked through as baggage.

    Would-be hijackers and other air­borne criminals, however, have far more reason to be alarmed than they ever did since plane hijacking began back in 1930 over, of all places, Peru.

    The next few occurred in the 1940's in Rumania, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Poland, Greece and Ethiopia. Not until 1961 did hijacking first strike American airliners. With 13 successful air piracies of U.S. airliners in 1968 and 33 in 1969, the U.S. Government stepped in.

    Direction of the Federal anti-hijacking campaign has been entrusted to a medical executive, H. L. Reighard, M.D., Deputy Federal Air Surgeon for the Federal Aviation Administration. Dr. Reighard, who is chairman of the FAA's Anti-Hijacking Task Force, and NRA Life Member James F. Rudolph, the FAA's Director of Flight Standards Service, who worked on the hijacking problem in its early stages, graciously cooperated with THE AMERICAN RIFLE MAN in the preparation of this report.

    Dr. Reighard's task force began its quest for a means of nailing arms toting passengers before they board an airliner about 21 months ago.

    It quickly turned up 10 potentially useful equipment approaches to the problem. Collaborating with the U.S. Naval Ordnance Laboratory in Washington, D.C., it pushed ahead with one mechanism which showed special promise, an instrument called a magneto­meter.

    How it works

    Now in use by three airlines, the magnetometer utilizes multiple sensors to measure the degree of disturbance caused by passage of metal objects through a magnetic field. The bigger the object and the faster it passes a sensor, the higher the disturbance reading produced on that particular sensor.

    The magnetometer is placed inconspicuously at some point where an air­line's passengers will pass through its magnetic field. Multiple sensors prevent an excessive number of false alarms. Thus, a passenger's wristwatch passing rapidly by one or more sensors might produce a high reading for those particular sensors. But when averaged out with the readings of all the sensors, it would not produce a high enough aver­age reading to raise suspicions.

    Obviously, the magnetometer alone is no surefire weapons detector, since it reacts to all metal indiscriminately. Some quite innocent metallic objects produce high readings, such as metal­lined brief, attache and camera cases and some kinds of photographic light meters. A hatchet might produce a high reading. So might the heavy metal jewelry favored by the "flower people."

    Despite this flaw, the magnetometer is invaluable when used as it is intended, as one component of a three-part anti­hijacking system.

    The second segment of the system has a science-fiction ring to it and a crime preventative potential considerably beyond its present application. To develop it, the FAA's Office of Aviation Medicine Staff Psychologist, Dr. John T. Dailey, together with Dr. Reighard and others, drew up a list of the behavior traits of all known hijackers.

    This information was screened, sifted, and molded. Out of it came a collective portrait of the characteristic hijacker -­ a "behavioral profile" of a particular species of hoodlum.

    Traits popularly believed to be "criminal" or "suspicious" -- nervousness, shifty eyes, sweaty palms-have no significance in the profile, Dr. Reighard emphasizes. Prevented by security requirements from revealing hijacker traits, he illustrated the general nature of the profile by using a parallel.

    Some years ago, to satisfy his curiosity, a psychologist studied the behavior of people entering a museum exhibit. Most, he found, turned right to enter the exhibit and departed for the next exhibit by the first door to the right.

    A minority, however, did not conform to this exhibit viewing pattern, and in this sense they were abnormal. Similarly, hijackers display abnormal traits­shared by only 0.2% of the population which can be easily spotted by a person trained to do so.

    The "behavioral profile" has been so simplified that any airline customer service employee can apply it after brief instruction. But though the FAA is willing to instruct key personnel of an airline on a "need to know" basis, they limit knowledge of the profile to as few individuals within an organization as possible.

    The magnetometer and the behavioral profile backstop one another, and their findings are interpreted in conjunction. A boarding passenger who produces a high metallic reading but who does not fit the hijacker behavioral profile is not stopped. Nor is a person who possesses hijacker behavioral traits unless he is also carrying a significant amount of metal.

    When a boarding passenger matches the hijacker profile and is also carrying considerable metal on his person, the third element in the anti-hijacker net swings closed: A deputy U.S. Marshal politely but firmly detains the passenger for questioning and, possibly, searching.

    The weapons detection system was first put into operation in October, 1969. At present it is in use on a limited basis (at some air terminals, on some, but not all flights) by Eastern Airlines, TWA, and Pan American. Eastern has indicated, however, that it plans to install the system in the near future for all its flights from all airports. Other air­lines are expected to follow suit.

    Results to date

    So far, the system has netted no hijackers. But, coincidentally or not, hijackings have declined sharply since the three airlines started to use the system on a spot check basis.

    And there is no lack of proof that the system does what it is intended to do -- spot armed individuals before they board a plane. Within months of its debut, it fingered four armed narcotics runners and at least one man fleeing prosecution. It has also tripped up several other persons who, habitually and illegally, have been travelling armed aboard air carriers. [MP: What? With no problems? Imagine that!]

    The system has also proven its accuracy in retrospect. In February, an Eastern Airlines flight which had not been screened was hijacked to Havana. Ground personnel who had seen all passengers boarding were interviewed. By applying the behavioral profile to the descriptions, one passenger was marked as a potential hijacker. After the plane landed in Cuba, Eastern learned that its diagnosis was correct. Applied in the same retrospective fashion to a non-screened United aircraft pirated in March, the system again identified the pirate correctly.

    The right of airlines to stop and search suspect passengers has the blessing of both the Justice Department and the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU even expressed the belief that the hijacking prevention program was sorely needed and of great benefit to the public.

    Other efforts

    As noted earlier, the system is not perfect. Some innocent persons toting harmless metal are grilled before boarding. To reduce inconvenience for the innocent the FAA is working on a device which it hopes will spot guns more accurately by "sniffing." If perfected, it will react to the chemical characteristics of gun oil, gunpowder solvents, residue of fired powder and bullet lubricant. The FAA also hopes that it will be able to detect explosives, both in hand and checked baggage.

    The possibility of identifying arms by low-level X-ray is also being explored. FAA tests indicate that X-ray exposure needed to "picture" a firearm is less than the radiation of large buildings and other emanators to which many people are continually exposed.

    In case pre-boarding checks somehow fail to nab an armed passenger, there are still other possible expedients. After an Eastern Airlines copilot was killed and a pilot badly wounded during a March hijacking, the FAA announced that it would urge airlines to install bullet-proof shields around the cockpits of their planes.

    Hopefully, such shields will become less necessary as weapons detection systems come into wider use. Work continues in this area, and the FAA emphasizes that they are always open to new ideas.

    By one means or another, the FAA intends to continue its anti-hijacking endeavors until the successful air pirate becomes as extinct as his seagoing counterpart who once terrorized the Spanish Main.
     
  9. jrm

    jrm Sledgehammer

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    I'm old enough to remember those good old days when there were no metal detectors in airports. The "gate" was just that. A gate or door that opened from the terminal onto the tarmac, and out you walked to climb the stairs to your plane.
     
  10. Malum Prohibitum

    Malum Prohibitum Moderator Staff Member

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    Did the knife thing change in 2001?

    In the 1990s, I always travelled with a folding buck knife (what is it, 4 inches?) and my ammunition in the carry on bag. Nobody even blinked. I have no idea if it was lawful.
     
  11. jrm

    jrm Sledgehammer

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    Yeah, knives never used to be a problem. That changed with 2001.
     
  12. Dan H

    Dan H New Member

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    I know this is an old thread, but had a question. I am traveling to california this week and want to take my firearm. I have the hard shell case and two combination locks on it. I am traveling on Frontier Airlines and have already called ahead and they gave me the skinny on what I need to do.

    My first question is when I declare it, must I tell them the combination to the locks in case they need to get into it for whatever reason?

    Also, because of Commyfornias 10 round mag law, is it a bad idea to take my two 16 rounders? I guess my concern is arriving and departing CA, do you think they look for this sort of thing and if so, do you think it will be a problem? Or is it not illegal if I am not a resident of CA?

    Anyway, let me know, but I am a bit timid to even take the gun at all cuz I know I will be running late getting to ATL for the departure and I dont want to miss my flight because of some TSA or Frontier Air employee not claiming it correctly....

    Thanks!
     
  13. moonchicken

    moonchicken New Member

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    I know this is a noob question, and it's probably been asked elsewhere, but how can you bring a firearm in a locked box in your luggage to declare it at the counter, if it is a felony (from what I understand) to have firearms on airport property?
    :?:

    Could someone please quote the applicable GA code or provide a link?

    Thanks.
     
  14. jrm

    jrm Sledgehammer

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    Dan H,

    Do not give your combinations to Frontier or TSA. They are not supposed to have access to the locked gun case. Occasionally, you run into someone (TSA or airline) that mistakenly believes he is supposed to have access, and they ask for the key or combinations. He's wrong. If that happens, ask for a supervisor. They can inspect the weapon in your presence if they want to (to verify it's unloaded), but they should not do something like say they are going to check it out of your presence so they need the combinations. That is a no-no.

    Moonchicken,

    I do not know that there is an answer to your question. It is a contradiction in the law, much like the fact that it apparently is OK to take gun to a gun show at the Cobb County Civic Center, which is a public gathering.
     
  15. Dan H

    Dan H New Member

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    John, I appreciate the help, should I be worried about taking my 16 round mags to Commyfornia?
     
  16. jrm

    jrm Sledgehammer

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    Sorry, forgot to address that. Yes, I think you should be worried. I have neither read the text of CA's restriction, nor attempted to research the matter, but my understanding is that non-residents are not excluded or exempted in any way, and must comply as though they are residents. I just happened to have discussed this topic generically with a couple CA lawyers recently, who agreed that the law was onerous and said people moving in from out of state cannot bring their evil devices with them. It stands to reason that visitors would be in no better position.
     
  17. AeroShooter

    AeroShooter New Member

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    In the absense of a definitive answer, err on the side of caution.
     
  18. ber950

    ber950 Active Member

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    http://ag.ca.gov/firearms/regs/sb23indx.php