How to travel Off-Duty with a Firearm

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We travel a lot as a family and I get posed this question often enough that I am going to write about some tips and how-tos on traveling armed as an LEO out of state.

This article is geared to the LEO who does not have a pistol permit in every state and will only be carrying on their badge.

Let’s first start by talking about what makes this possible.  In 2004, the US Government enacted the Law Enforcement Officer Safety Act (LEOSA).

This act allows current and retired Law Enforcement Officers to carry a pistol concealed while outside of the jurisdiction they are employed in.

Defined below is the definition used to describe “Qualified Law Enforcement Officer”.

qualified law enforcement officer” is defined as any individual employed by a governmental agency, state or local municipality, or private agency/firm who:

  1. is authorized by law to engage in or supervise the prevention, detection, investigation, or prosecution of, or the incarceration of any person for, any violation of law, and [sic?] has statutory powers of arrest, or apprehension under section 807(b) of title 10, United States Code (article 7(b) of the Uniform Code of Military Justice); This includes state and public college/university police officers.
  2. is authorized by the agency to carry a firearm;
  3. is not the subject of any disciplinary action by the agency which could result in suspension or loss of police powers;
  4. meets standards, if any, established by the agency which require the employee to regularly qualify in the use of a firearm;
  5. is not under the influence of alcohol or another intoxicating or hallucinatory drug or substance; and
  6. is not prohibited by Federal law from receiving a firearm.

The easiest way is by car. 

Carry concealed as you would do normally in the jurisdiction you are employed or allowed to carry. 

You must also have your government issued ID on you as well, showing your proof of employment.

Unless you are actively working while flying and have clearance from your employer to fly armed you will need to check the firearm in checked baggage. 

Understand that the airline that you are using may have more strict rules that you will have to follow than the TSA rules. 

Follow these steps below to check your firearm while flying.

Step 1: Go to TSA to see the up to date requirements set by TSA.

Step 2: Go to your specific airline to view their policy on checking a firearm. (JetBlue example)

Step 3: Choose the appropriate firearm for the trip you have planned.  Going to Alaska or Florida? 

Choosing the right gun for the most realistic scenarios based on your destination.  Stay tuned!  This will be an article coming soon.

Step 4: You will need a hard sided lockable case.  I personally use a Glock case as it is sturdy enough that it will keep people out and light enough to not break the 50lb luggage weight limit.  I then take a cable lock (they come with most guns) and wrap it around the handle. 

This is safe and acceptable to TSA and all of the companies I have flown on.  It also gives you the option to lock the pistol once you are to your destination. 

Some companies require that your name and address be on the case.  I use duct tape and write it in permanent ink.

Step 5: Separate the ammo from the pistol case.  I always put the ammo in the cardboard box and crate the manufacturer packages it in and put it in my luggage. 

I have never had any issue with this with any of the companies I have flown on.

Step 6:  When you get to the airport you must check the luggage and declare the firearm. 

I usually say “Hello, here is my ID and I need to declare a firearm.”  The employees are familiar with the check-in process and will have you fill out an airline specific declaration form. 

Step 7:  Once you are checked in you will need to stand by the counter for no more than 10 minutes to get the “all clear” that the bag made it through TSA scanning. 

This is a new rule and experienced flying out of ROC and out of DAB. 

Step 8:  Once you arrive at your destination you will have to do one of two things.  One is wait at the carousel for your luggage to come out. Two is you may have to go to the baggage claim office to get your luggage. 

I have seen it both ways and is company specific.  This change was made after the shooting at the Ft. Lauderdale Airport.

That’s it!  A little stress and inconvenience for the reassurance that you will have your pistol on you when you need it. 

I personally would have a hard time dealing with not having a pistol when I needed it to protect myself or my family because I didn’t want the stress of having to travel with it.  

Do something today that your future self will be thankful for, Keep Training!

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