Have Gun, Will Travel

Have Gun, Will Travel

by Greg Perry by Greg Perry

As a writer I go to a lot of conferences. Before the airlines began treating us like criminals instead of customers I preferred flying over driving (see Get Paid to Molest Citizens!).

Before 911 I flew so much that American Airlines made me a lifetime Gold member which almost always means upgrades to first class and priority booking. To someone who doesn’t fly much that might seem like an amazing perk but it’s not from anything I did other than fly a lot during the 1990s. Having said that, when one does fly a lot those upgrades make things easier and they often mean you arrive more refreshed than when one flies coach.

The bureaucratic, job-creating, passenger-molesting, nonsensical "security" measures they placed on fliers after 911 (they don’t profile if you look Arab) brought my flying to a screeching halt. Whereas I used to fly if my destination was over 100 miles, I now prefer a 2- or 3-day drive — I much prefer it — over an airline flight with trips through the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) molesting my wife and me, and with TSA rummaging through our suitcases looking for lingerie and items such as cameras that they like sell on eBay.

For the past 5 years, therefore, I have flown only when I had a free ticket when using free airline miles or when someone else paid my ticket. Otherwise, I drove as opposed to paying one penny towards a TSA worker’s salary.

My Requirement to Fly

eBay held its annual conference a few weeks ago in Las Vegas. A business associate I was going with wanted to fly. I wanted to drive. The last time we traveled together I won and we drove so I acquiesced and agreed to fly.

I had one stipulation. I required my firearm with me in Las Vegas.

As an author of a top Video Poker book and as an advantage player, when I’m in Las Vegas I play. In a place where cash is everywhere I didn’t want to visit Las Vegas again without having my sidearm, a Colt 1911 Model 45.

I’d rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it.

Fortunately, last year when I was there I applied for a Nevada carry permit. It took 277 days for the permit to arrive! Nevada’s bureaucratic state licensing board hates the handicapped. They didn’t like my fingerprints (all three of them) and they requested that I make a quick jaunt back over the 6 states to retake the prints before they would issue me a permit.

After calls and letters they finally agreed to let my local authorities (in name only) retake my prints. They didn’t like those either; the prints matched the ones taken given in Nevada as I had told them they would. They said if I wouldn’t drive back for a quick set of prints they would have to do a background check and approve or disapprove me through that. Why didn’t they just do that to begin with? It’s because a bureaucrat’s primary reason for existing is to say NO. By buffering the process with fingerprint checks they not only slow down the process but they also hire far more people to staff the fingerprint center and they have far more chances to say NO.

Fortunately… for them… my background check was approved. I’ve said the ONLY place I would use the evil Americans with Disabilities Act is to use it against them when they refuse to issue me a gun permit or when they require gun locks on all handguns where I would be at a disadvantage. I was ready to call the slimiest ADA lawyer I could find. (A slimy ADA lawyer isn’t at all difficult to locate; just find any ADA lawyer.)

Face it — when one can pit the Department of Justice’s ADA lawyers against the Department of Justice’s gun control lawyers in a battle, one should do so. It doesn’t really matter which side wins — as long as one side loses we are slightly better as a nation than before.

Packing Heat

My true purpose for writing this is to explain the process in flying with a handgun. I must say, in spite of my post-911 attitude towards the airline industry in general, and in spite of my pure disdain for the TSA, if you ever wish to fly with a handgun the process is extraordinarily simple.

We flew Southwest. I went to their web site and read the rules for firearms. The rules basically state that the gun must be unloaded, ammo must be put in a wooden or metal box, and both must be locked in a case at the airport in front of the ticketing agent.

I first had to get a locking box for the gun. I went to my local gun store and fortunately they were on sale so I bought two. My wife often travels with me and always it’s best if we both have our guns. (The first rule of a gunfight is to bring a gun.) (That’s a good rule for a knife fight too.)

I told the clerk what I was doing and asked if he had a small ammo box approved by the airlines. He said it was illegal to fly with ammo and a gun. I told him what Southwest Airlines’ web site said. He said the airlines will tell you that you can travel with both but it’s against federal laws.

That is quite interesting. The airlines are promoting the violation of federal laws by telling you how to pack ammo along with your weapon.

Not one to take a chance, I decided my first stop after landing in Vegas would be Wal-Mart for ammo.

At the Airport

Not too much concerns me but being my virgin trip with my trusty sidearm I was somewhat anxious walking up to the counter. I had my suitcase with the gun in a box inside.

Here is the series of steps that took place:

  1. I told the ticket agent I had a firearm to declare.
  2. He told me to take out the gun and show him that it was unloaded.
  3. I opened the suitcase and the box with the gun inside. I removed the gun and showed him the magazine was out (in the box separately) and there was no chambered round. I must say I felt a little funny doing this in the airport with passengers looking on. No reason to feel funny but it did.
  4. Satisfied that it was empty, he asked that I sign a form stating that the gun was unloaded. He put the form in the box and asked that I lock the gun box. I did and put the key in my pocket.
  5. He asked that I close the suitcase which I did.
  6. He took the suitcase back to the baggage area and it was on its way.

That was it. Simple.

The return trip from the Las Vegas airport was the same routine. Quick and not a big deal.

When You Travel With a Gun

I offer this to show that in today’s bizarre world of TSA, bringing a weapon on board an airplane packed in your luggage is a surprisingly simple non-event. If you don’t travel with your gun, why don’t you?

The airport never asked if I was licensed to carry the gun in my own state or in Nevada. They really have no right to ask that as it shouldn’t matter for there are many reasons to want to pack a weapon in a suitcase besides personal carry. Still I was surprised that the hassle factor was non-existent.

Obviously there is a flaw in airport security if it’s this easy on their law-abiding passengers. Something will have to be done to slow down and frustrate those good passengers who wish to have their sidearms at their destination.

I have no idea if I’ll ever fly again. If I do, I take comfort in knowing that my most important requirement is simple to obtain.

When you plan to fly with your weapon, you’ll be prepared when you do the following:

  1. Get an inexpensive locking carry box at your local gun store.
  2. Unload your weapon, remove the magazine and place the magazine and the gun in the box before you leave your home. Make sure the box’s key is in your pocket.
  3. Put the box in your suitcase where it’s on top of the other contents and easy to access at the ticket counter.
  4. Tell the ticket agent about the firearm, sign the form that goes in the box, and lock the box in front of the agent.
  5. When you land, find a Wal-Mart and buy ammo.

Too bad they don’t let you pack your ammo also. Having to buy a box after landing is the only hassle left in the process. If only I could mail myself a few bullets…