Last week I flew to California to pick up my father, sister, dog, and a car to bring back. It’s a nice 1200-mile drive from California to San Antonio. I was in a hurry and had to grab a last minute ticket (bought the ticket at 1:00, the flight left at 7:45). I got there late at night and then got up the next morning to drive back (always fun). I actually enjoy a road trip, so it was fun for me.
I don’t want to travel that far without a gun and traveling with a gun brings up unique difficulties. First, I had to fly out there with it. Yes, it’s legal to do, provided you put it in your checked bag (that I now have to pay for), declare it, put it in a locked case (that only you have the key to), and go through all the other hoops that the airline and TSA want you to go through.
I’m paranoid that someone will steal my gun and hurt someone else with it so I take my gun ownership responsibility to the extreme. The only time I’m not worried about my guns is when they are in my direct control or locked in my heavy-duty gun safe at home. So giving my gun to a TSA agent and a bag handler makes me very nervous.
The first thing I do when I fly is sanitize all my stuff. More than one friend of mine has had a problem getting on flights because they have forgotten to take out things that shouldn’t be there. I just dump out my bag and clean out everything, then pack my stuff. I do this for every bag, every time and I’ve still missed things.
Coming out of Iraq once, I forgot to take out my emergency IR Strobe light. When I dumped my bag at the airport for inspection, the airline security guy found this:
It’s turned on by plugging it into the battery and is off when it’s not. So I take electric tape and tape the strobe to the 9v battery so they stay together in case I need it. Well, you can guess what one of these looks liked taped to a battery if you don’t know what it is. I was trying to explain what it was to the guy that doesn’t speak English. On top of that, it appears to do nothing when you plug it in unless you are looking through night vision.
Anyways, here in Texas, all I had to do was declare my firearm, sign a deal that says it’s unloaded and then show the bag to TSA. TSA swabs it for explosives. Yeah, I know, I don’t know why either. Then the bag handler takes the bag and we all go on our way. If I had my way, I’d watch the bag go onto the plane so I know it wasn’t tampered with, but they won’t let me do that.
So, instead of just hoping for the best, I took the firing pin out of my Glock and put it under the padding in the case. That way, if someone did steal my weapon, it wouldn’t work without someone that knew what they were doing to fix it. Not a perfect solution to bag theft, but better than nothing.
Once at my location, I follow all local laws. So when I got to my destination for the night in California, I put the firing pin back in the gun and then left it locked in the case until I got out of California. The first truck stop inside Arizona, it came out of the case and went back on my belt.
When you travel, use gear you know and know how to use. Standing with the doors open at the truck stop trying to get your holster and gun on your belt is not the time to see if a new holster works. Once I got my gun back under my control where it belonged, I felt much better. I kept the gun on for the entire trip home because it’s legal.
We stopped at a friend’s house and I made sure to keep the gun on me because he has young kids. Later, we stopped at a hotel and the gun went into my bag while I slept, right next to my flashlight and extra ammo. I put it on the floor on the side of the bed away from the door. Not a perfect solution, but it’s better than far away or under the pillow. I’ve trained for too long to make my gun handling skills second nature. I don’t want an oops while I’m sleeping, so the gun goes just out of my reach. That also gives me time that I have to become fully awake before acting with a firearm to what I might perceive as a threat while I’m half asleep but might be my roommate coming back from a late night bathroom trip.
If you have to fly with your gun, take a piece of the gun so the gun doesn’t operate to protect someone from being killed with your gun if it’s stolen. I’ve been doing this for years, but luckily never had to test the theory, as I’ve not had a gun stolen from me yet.