The Tax Stamp Fairy brought me a gift this past weekend. And by “brought” I mean I had to fly halfway across the country to pick the damned thing up. This image represents the end of a 6 month wait, and hopefully the beginning of a much more comfortable shooting atmosphere at Tyler’s ranch. Special thanks to NoVA Armament in Herndon, VA for being such an awesome FFL. Expect an “Ask Foghorn” on the topic of NFA weapons purchasing very shortly. And now for storytime…

I decided to fly with the silencer in the cargo hold on the way back. Some friends had suggested the safer way to get it to Texas was to ship it, but I was not going to be convinced otherwise. I had waited far too long for this already, and I wanted it on my gun that night.

The return flight connected through New York City (JFK), not generally known as the paragon of gun rights but I decided that an hour layover was plenty of time for Murphy to try his best and I’ll still catch the connecting flight. I simply needed to walk two gates over and board the next flight as my bag was transferred by the unknowing handlers.

My first flight pushed back from the gate exactly on time, and I mean to the absolute tick. I took it as a sign that everything would run like clockwork. But my hopes were soon dashed as the plane taxied to a holding area and turned off its engines. The captain told us we had a 30 minute wait ahead of us for takeoff — not welcome news at all.

At this point I still wasn’t concerned. I had built in a good hour of time, and I was still within the margins. Life was grand as we powered up and took off for JFK. But 45 minutes later we entered a holding pattern above JFK and I started to worry.

Time was slowly ticking away. Would the connecting flight wait for me? How fast could the baggage guys get my bag on the plane? What if I was stuck there overnight? What would I do if they tried to give me my bag back? I had visions of trying to check in the next morning and being flanked by NYC’s finest as they escorted me to Rikers Island.

As the plane taxied to the gate I was staring at my watch. I had enough time to make it if only they would open the door, but they didn’t. The door stayed shut. I was on the ground and I could see my next plane still sitting at the gate, but I couldn’t get there. I was trapped for what seemed like hours before they finally opened the door and let us out.

I don’t think my feet even touched the steps as I leapt down the stairs of the ERJ-145, taking off and running as fast as I could manage to get to the next gate. As I rounded the corner I could see the attendants holding the door, almost ready to close it. “This is the final boarding call for flight 1181 with service to San Antonio…” I was not going to be stuck in that Godforsaken city overnight.

I reached the podium just in time, gasping out my name as I rummaged in my bag for my boarding pass. “Just go — 12 Bravo!” I jogged down the jetway, glancing at my watch — two minutes before departure. I had made it.

As I sat down in my seat between two painfully liberal women (and me in my advanced Armament t-shirt) I thought to myself, “I made it! I’m free of this city!”

And then the thought entered my mind. “I just barely made it — but did my bag?”

The flight lasted three hours, three hours where I was constantly questioning the probable speed of the baggage handlers, scrutinizing every sound I heard as I entered the plane trying to figure out when the cargo door had closed, running through scenarios in my mind of what I would do if my bag didn’t appear in San Antonio. Who would I call? Did I need to tell the ATF? How would they get my bag to me? How long would it take to get a replacement silencer?

Those thoughts were still fresh in my mind as we disembarked in San Antonio. It was too dark to see the baggage coming off the plane from the airport window, so i just needed to walk to the baggage claim and wait and see. I took note of the baggage service window for the airline as I walked into the baggage claim, figuring that I would end up there eventually that night. The minutes crawled by. It seemed like I had been standing in that baggage claim forever.

Suddenly the belt starts moving. I position myself to get a good view of the bags as they come out, and none of them are looking like mine. How long do I stand here before I go talk to the agent? Do I tell them its a silencer or just say my bag is missing? I should have just mailed the damned thing to myself…

After a few minutes of standing and quietly praying I saw a speck of blue on the end of the conveyor belt. It was my bag, and it had made it after all! I took it to the nearest counter and ripped open the zipper, reaching inside and checking the locks on my case. They were still in tact — the silencer was safe.

I let out a sigh of relief and swore that (A) I would never connect through New York City while traveling with firearms ever again and (B) three hour layovers were the way to go from here on out.

The second I walked in the door I dropped everything at the threshold and went straight for my gun closet, pulling out my .300 BLK rifle. I unlocked the case, produced the silencer, and enjoyed every single click as it ratcheted into place. Six months and it was worth every second.

19 Responses to You never forget your first…

  1. @Rokurota, If you have traveled much, you know that you can’t always get “there” from “here” without going “over there” first. Take as an example a flight to, say Chicago O’Hare from Little Rock. Often times, the shortest route is through Dallas or Houston! Or Little Rock to Los Angeles – through St. Louis….

    @Nick, after all that nail-biting suspense, I hope the silencer was worth it! 🙂

  2. NY is the armpit of the free world. I REFUSE to fly near there or NJ.

    So, were the women cute and did you get a phone#?

    • Dirk, I have to disagree with that statement. It implies that New York/New Jersey are part of the free world.

    • Once upon a time it was a cool place. That time was maybe three decades ago. Never felt the desire to go back since. Place is run by a midget dictator.

    • Same as any other firearm. Locked hard sided case with non-TSA locks, state “I need a firearms declaration tag,” and then watch the confusion as you pull out a small tube when they ask to show that its clear.

      • I’m in the middle teens as far as number of flights with firearms go, all in the last 18 months. Other than the very first one, in November 2010, I have never been asked to show clear. I’ve been asked, of course, every single check-in, but never had to demonstrate it after that first time.

        The most recent trip would have been amusing to demonstrate, what with four firearms in one case and all…

  3. Couldn’t you check it as a lawn mower muffler? Does it say “fire arm suppressor” on it?

  4. Damn, my check was cashed 6 months ago to this very day and I still havent got mine yet. Have fun and enjoy and I’m planning on a 762-sdn next.

  5. Congratulations! I almost feel sorry for you though. The thing about silencers is, after you get one, you want to shoot them. A LOT. With a .22, it’s not so bad. With .300 BLK, it’s going to hurt to scratch that itch as much as you’ll want to.

  6. Thanks Nick for bringing back the memory of my first…….. she was a pettite red head with pale blue eyes that sparkled like……. well never mind. Congrats on getting your suppressor safely home with out incident.

  7. Are you somehow exempt from NY firearm laws when flying through an airport? I would figure that entering the state with it would be a felony!

    • The airline is a “common carrier” and when you hand them your bag they’re basically the same as UPS. As long as the item is legal at your origin and destination (and you don’t take possession of the item in a restricted state) the FOPA has you covered.

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