BOZEMAN, Mont. – To coincide with the arrival of the fall hunting season, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) on Tuesday provided tips for those traveling with common items used for hunting.
“When carrying out our screening duties at the airport, TSA routinely encounters rifles, bows and arrows, knives and other items used by sportsmen and hunters,” said Dan Fevold, TSA federal security director for Montana. “On the 17th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, it is an opportune time to refresh our knowledge of the procedures and rules for traveling on a commercial aircraft with these items.”
Rifles and handguns can be transported on a commercial aircraft only if they are unloaded, packed in a locked, hard-sided case and placed in checked baggage. Ammunition and firearm parts, including firearm frames, receivers, clips and magazines are also prohibited in carry-on baggage and must be checked.
At the airport during the check-in process, a passenger should go to the airline ticket counter to declare all guns, ammunition and any firearm parts. Ammunition should be transported in its original packaging.
While firearm magazines and ammunition clips – whether loaded or empty – must be transported in checked baggage, TSA recommends that they accompany firearm if possible. Small arms ammunition that does not exceed .75 caliber for a rifle or pistol and shotgun shells of any gauge may be transported in the same case as the firearm.
TSA recommends travelers check with their airline prior to their flight to ensure they comply with any airline-specific requirements. Passengers are encouraged to check firearm laws and regulations at their destination to ensure they are in compliance with local and state laws.
An assembled bow and/or arrow are not allowed in carry-on baggage and must also be transported as checked luggage. TSA recommends they be transported in a hard-sided cases. Bear spray is not permitted in either checked or carry-on luggage.
All knives, regardless of blade length, are prohibited in carry-on luggage. It is recommended that hunting knives are securely packed alongside firearms in the locked, hard-sided case. In the interest of TSA officer safety, this placement is preferred to packing knives among personal items in a checked suitcase where an officer could unexpectedly encounter a sharp blade during a bag check.
Any type of replica firearm is prohibited in carry-on baggage and must be transported in checked luggage. TSA permits rifle scopes to be transported in either carry-on or checked bags.
If a passenger brings a firearm to the TSA security checkpoint, TSA will levy civil penalties against the passenger. The recommended civil penalty starts at $1,960 and can be as high as $9,800. The factors TSA considers when determining the civil penalty amount include whether the firearm was loaded and whether there was accessible ammunition. TSA evaluates each incident on a case-by-case basis.
Individuals who violate the rules above will have their trusted traveler status and TSA Pre✓® expedited screening benefits revoked for a period of time. The duration of the disqualification will depend upon the seriousness of the offense and if there is a repeated history of violations.
Below is a chart that summarizes the number of firearms TSA has discovered in travelers’ carry-on luggage at security checkpoints nationwide as well as at four of Montana’s largest airports since 2014.
|Billings Logan International
|Glacier Park International
|2018 (as of August 31)
TSA reminds passengers to be aware of the contents of their carry-on bag prior to coming to the security checkpoint. TSA has multiple resources available to passengers to help them determine whether an item is permitted in carry-on baggage, checked baggage or not at all.
Travelers can visit TSA’s “What Can I Bring?” page or download the MyTSA mobile app. Travelers can also Tweet or Facebook message AskTSA if they have a travel question or are unsure if an item is allowed through security in a carry-on bag. Just snap a picture or send a question and get real-time assistance every day from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. MDT.
TSA’s website has additional traveler information specifically related to the commercial air transport of firearms and ammunition.