When I was flying back to The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave from The Land of Hope and Glory, a screener discovered a single .22 cartridge buried in the folds of my carry-on. My daughter and I were detained pending further investigation. “It’s a serious business,” one of the MP5-schlepping Brits told me. “You’re carrying part of a gun.” Sure. Right. A part of a gun. Gotcha. According to wdtn.com, the Dayton, Ohio TSA discovered . . .

a “magazine clip “with seven rounds in a carry-on bag Saturday after 6 a.m.” When asked about the clip mag . . .

The passenger told security he forgot it was in his bag.”

As if!

Officers asked what kind of firearm the magazine belonged to, but the passenger stated he didn’t know.

As the Brits say, pull the other one, it’s got bells on it.

It’s not known if he’ll face charges.

I should bloody well hope not. But I reckon it was more than the TSA Agent’s job’s worth to let him go, I mean, even the British police state didn’t cause me too much trouble. What a sad state of affairs.

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64 Responses to OMG! Ammunition! In a Carry-On Bag! OMG!

  1. Someone really needs to develop a network for shipping guns to and from an intended location. Yes I know there’s the FFL situation, but that seems to entitle transfer fees and the idea you’re buying it. I’m talking about if you’re flying from NY to GA for hunting you should be able to ship your gun and pick it up somewhere without it being a giant ordeal.

      • ^ This.

        I’ve mailed handguns to myself in the past, and had no issues. It helps if you box it up yourself before walking into Kinkos or the UPS store. I insure the parcel for the proper amount, and away we go.

        If the worker at the counter asks what’s in the box, just say “car parts.” To my knowledge, you’re not required by law to disclose the contents to the carrier.

        • You are if it’s “hazardous”. Dangerous chemicals and the like have to be disclosed. I certainly wouldn’t tell them if it’s fragile–they play football with the ones marked fragile.

        • “Car parts”would be a false statement, which is not just illegal but immoral.

          OTOH, if you remove one simple piece, and declare what’s in the package is “machine parts”, you’re giving them the literal truth: a gun is a machine, and if a piece is missing, the rest is just parts.

          Unless it’s been changed, under Oregon law a gun with a piece removed so it can’t function is just metal. I’ve made use of that legal fact before to keep my piece with me in places where guns aren’t permitted; I just put the piece back in after passing through.

        • Roymond: I think you and I have different ideas of “immorality.”

          I’m pretty sure it’s not illegal either. But do what helps you sleep better at night, I suppose.

        • I ship “machine parts” via UPS and FedEx regularly.

          As long as the destination is legal (e.g. intrastate, to yourself, or to an FFL), there’s nothing illegal about it.

      • Thanks for letting me know! I honestly didn’t know you could and never understood why we wouldnt be able to. We used to do this for paintball tournaments, shipping the tank was always easier than taking the dang thing apart for plane transport.

    • There is a way.

      You check it with the airline and it flies on the same plane that you do. You even get to put it in a hard-sided pelican case with your own non-tsa-approved lock so that they can’t break into your shit and steal your gun.

      I’ve got several photographer friends who fly with pistols just so that they can lock up their expensive camera gear in nice cases and not have it stolen by TSA.

      • You don’t even need a true gun for the camera bag trick. A starter pistol (legal in all 50 states) works, or even a piece of a firearm or ammunition, like a barrel, trigger, or empty brass.

    • Flying within the U.S. isn’t really a problem, as long as you don’t have to go through NY, NJ or MD. People make it sound far more complicated than it really is.

      • Through is fine, because the airline is in possession the whole time and is covered by common carrier protections. To is a hassle, because once you hit baggage claim, you’re subject to local laws about possession and transportation.

        • Except when it isn’t. Didn’t a guy have his connecting flight canceled? They gave him his luggage, put him up in a hotel, then arrested him when he tried to check the gun back in to the airline. I think that was in Jerseys…

        • Yeah. If in the people’s republic of NJ or NYC, refuse to take possession of such an item in that case. Figure something else out.

  2. Maybe I’m weird or something, but any bag that I use for ammo or firearms is never going to be used for a travel bag if I’m flying. I’ve got range bags and I’ve got travel bags and one is never used for the other.

    • You’re not weird, but I do a fair amount of air travel for work, and I’ve definitely used luggage for multiple purposes.

      I have a really nice, rugged Maxpedition shoulder bag that is great for taking guns and accessories to the range for IDPA shoots. It’s also the perfect size for a carry-on bag, is professional in appearance (one I remove the morale patches) and stows away under the seat in front of me with room to spare.

      I don’t see why I would need to own two of the exact same Maxpedition bags. It would be nice, but there are better things for me to spend money on.

      I do try to be very careful to check for errant ammo before flying, however….

      • Why? Because if you ever overlook just one cartridge, and the TSA finds it, then you could end up in jail. Buy and use a second bag for traveling, because it costs so much less than a prison sentence.

        I know. The law (and the way it is enforced) doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t have to. Welcome to the police state.

        • Imagine how much nicer the country would be if Mens Rea was made to be a legally necessary component of any criminal offense. All it would take is a one word change (“Knowingly”) in 90% of the strict liability laws on the books to improve, though not entirely redeem them.

          The US Code of Law is well overdue for a systematic revision and reduction at this point, but good luck convincing any legislative body to do that.

        • For full mens rea you need “willingly and knowingly”.

          That’s supposed to be assumed because it’s a principle in the common law. But I was on a jury once when the judge actually instructed us that it didn’t apply (in fancy weasel-wiggly language, of course). Happily, there were two of us libertarians on the jury and we were in the courthouse law library annex when recessed, which let us show everyone what the basic law said and we all thereafter ignored the judge.

    • That is a fine plan, but I always seem to get caught up in “let’s go shoot!” and grab a bag, stuff it fill, and leave. I have arrived at the intended location to discover I had ammo for a gun at home, and a gun for ammo at home, before. There are always still plenty guns and ammo, though. Still, given a few years, following your plan would have me with 100 range bags and no luggage. So, instead, I devote much more planning to a trip by air, and the luggage I will use, than I do to a range trip! Recently, in fact, if I am not going overseas, I just drive, because it is much more fun and much less hassle. I think that is why some states keep passing more and more laws about what I can carry in my car, and how. They heard I was having too much fun. I can’t think of any other reason.

      • Yup. When traveling domestically, I drive instead of fly more an more often as well. Flying just isn’t worth the headache if the destination is 8 hours or less away by car.

        • +1.

          By the time you take end effects into account, it can take 5+ hours to make a 1-hour flight.

      • You don’t wind up with 100 bags, you wind up with two.

        One stays in the closet in the bedroom or wherever you store your other luggage. (Inside of a larger suitcase works well – saves space and keeps it out of sight when not needed.)

        The other, the range bag, stays near where you keep your guns and / or ammo. That way you always have it nearby for packing for the range.

        When you get home, empty the range bag of all unshot ammo (if any) so you don’t wind up assuming it’s got what you need for the next trip. Leave hearing and eye pro in the range bag, along with range membership ID cards, shooting diary, staple gun, or whatever you always want to have with you.

        This really isn’t that hard.

        I know myself well enough to know that if I didn’t use separate bags, I’d eventually make a mistake. So, two bags.

        • “When you get home, empty the range bag of all unshot ammo (if any) so you don’t wind up assuming it’s got what you need for the next trip.”

          That is not the way it works, here. By the time we pack up, drive an hour to the range, shoot a couple hours, then drive an hour home and unpack the car, then spend several hours drinking and lying about our performance today, there is no remaining time or energy for unpacking/repacking for the next shoot. So the bag stays where it was dropped, and the NEXT time, it seems to be full, let me take this one which is empty, and load it up. Thus, the range bag cycles through every bag in the house, from the tiny bag (probably less than a gallon) I bought to carry odds and ends on the back seat of my motorcycle near 30 years ago in Japan, to a huge roller Duffel NRA sent me this year. Cleaning is the same. I just made an attempt to organize, yesterday. I have something like 6 different bore cleaners, multiple rods, jags and brushes for each of 6 or 7 calibers, unmarked patches by the thousands, 3 different gun oils, for goodness sake, besides a couple CLPs! Another decade or two, I’ll be all organized, but I’ll be dead, too.

    • My problem is that I carry a purse everywhere, to the range and to the airport. One time I tossed a leftover .38 special round into my bottomless purse and there it remained until TSA found it for me. They were pretty nice about it considering what a-holes they can often be, and my punishment was a stern letter.

      I’m more careful now. Except for my carry gun, everything gun related goes into a range bag.

      • Don’t know your background, Juliesa, so just let me pass on that a “stern letter” is more formally referred to as a “nastygram”.

      • I have one of those letters. I told the ID check guy that the detailed questions about my trip were none of his business. He was one of their well trained BDA experts (you might have read about how useless and wasteful the program is), so he flagged me for “additional screening”. And I had the audacity to question their policies and effectiveness, while being groped.

        I framed my letter!

        • Maybe you should send a copy of it, along with a big fat THANK YOU, to George effing Wanker Bush.

          BTW, have any of the candidates, other than Rand Paul, even hinted at scaling back the massive GWB era increases in government agencies?

  3. Given the increase in violent crime in the UK I question the prudence of traveling there. The hoplophobes will travel there cheerfully; but, then, they don’t know any better.
    The relevant question for readers of this blog is: Why would any PotG choose to travel in the UK? I’ll travel in other European countries; but why should I travel in the UK? If I don’t have to do so (for business) I’ll go elsewhere.
    Perhaps gun-owners should choose their foreign travel destinations keeping gun rights in mind as a selection criteria.

    • Many of us travel where work takes us.

      Also, if gun rights are your primary criteria for selecting vacation destinations, you’re going to miss out on ever visiting quite a few truly spectacular parts of the world. Or parts of the United States, for that matter.

      • Many otherwise nice places are ruined by being inhabited by crappy people. That’s their problem and I won’t make it mine.

  4. I had this happen to me in the Syracuse, NY airport. I had driven to NY from VA, and had to fly back unexpectedly. I forgot I had a loaded magazine for my 1911 in my backpack.

    TSA flipped out, closed down the entire terminal. Detained me and called the police. The agent who found it was actually very cool. His supervisor, however, went into Defcon 1 status, cordoned off the perimeter, took photos of it with her cell phone, and treated me like a maniac hell bent on firing those .45’s with my teeth once we got to altitude.

    The Syracuse PD (they have an office in the airport) showed up quickly and questioned me, checked out my concealed carry permit, asked me what kind of 1911 I had, and said I could pick it up in their office when I got back into town.

    I had my wife come get it an hour later, they had it in a little plastic baggie that they had written “Naughty Naughty” on and that was the end of that.

    It taught me two things: TSA is a bunch of mall cops, and regular police have a LOT of discretion on what to do in these cases. In my case, as in most cases like mine, I did not even miss my flight. But sometimes the police go all Roscoe P. Coltrane on someone so they can cuff’em and stuff’em.

    • TSA agents are NOT peace officers. Which is why they are not armed and always call the police–they can detain but cannot arrest. Homeland Security is, however, seeking to get them that status, which would be truly unfortunate.

    • A stern talking to and sent me on my merry way out of Merry England. They said they find stray ammo on soldiers all the time.

  5. Where do I get one of these magazine clips? I hear they offer quick reloading with no springs or legal restrictions. I looked on Brownell’s and MidwayUSA, but neither seem to stock them.

  6. Never mind guns and ammo. I almost got hooked-up at Dulles for having a radio in my bag, a Motorola XTS, which I use for work and which had the battery removed. Apparently the screener thought I was up to no good while in possession of a digital radio. They called the police who promptly let me go while yelling at the screener. There is some justice, some times.

    • a radio!!!! OMG! thank heavens your evil plan was foiled….. /sarc

      wow, I am just stumped. every smart phone has 4 radios on it, data, gps, wifi and bluetooth. bet he never called the cops on somones Iphone.

      • Yeah that was my first thought. WTF could you do with a radio that you can’t do with a smart phone now? I mean, they let people on planes with laptops and provide them wifi on that very flight that could be used to accomplish any number of nefarious things. Why the radio is worse is beyond me. Maybe they don’t know what a radio looks like anymore… thought it was some detonator

        • The TSA screeners aren’t federal agents but are trying to make federal cases out of everything that to them is suspicious in their minds. Motorolas are expensive, black in color and can look scary to the uninitiated. Moreover, never get into a discussion about the explosive detection equipment with them, it REALLY makes them nervous.

  7. A couple years ago, I had been living in Colorado and was flying out of Denver. I was travelling light, and was carrying only my old rucksack & bug-out-pack. Somewhere deep in the crevices of my ruck, they found a single spent 5.56 case, and three live .22 rounds in my carry-on.
    When the brass & ammo pinged the scanners, I was asked to “hang out” at the TSA desk while one of them stood by and asked me about the contraband. I explained the brass was probably left over from Iraq, and the .22s left over from the last time I was hunting rabbit with my antique Winchester. The TSA guard turned out to be a gun-guy too, & we talked about our vintage stuff while the other TSA made a secondary search of my bag, and did some paperwork.
    He explained that there is a threshold number of rounds found before they have to report it, and possibly be fined. I think it was up to six loose rounds of live ammo; for anything less, they’d give me a written warning, dump the rounds, and I’d be on my way.
    That’s what happened; I got an official TSA warning letter, made my flight, and never heard from them again.
    Then again, I don’t fly anymore, so…..

    • A couple of years ago, those three rounds of .22 they dumped were probably worth more than your plane ticket… 😉

  8. Take a Canemaster cane with you. I have bad knees and a prescription from my range buddy MD for it. It goes in the a/c cabin, on the Tube, in the Tower of London, and everywhere. Handy multi-tool.

  9. There is a Czech national sitting in custody in a Mumbai jail cell right now also for simply having a single round in his backpack. http://www.praguepost.com/world-news/47074-czech-arrested-at-mumbai-airport

    When I was at a DGU class last year (Czech Republic), a woman that was also attending the class told me that she had and empty .50 BMG cartridge casing discovered in her backpack in UK. She spent 7 hours with the MP5 wielding British cops in an airport jail cell being repeatedly asked stupid questions just for the empty casing.

    Always when I remember stories like this I promise myself to check the backpack and all pockets before leaving the country, but somehow I never remember on that before actually going abroad… up until I see the scanners before me. Well, let’s hope that if ever, I’ll forget about an empty shell and not the spare 16 rounds magazine I usually carry…

    • That’s one reason (in addition to the crime of course) I never casually pop over the bridge to Mexico anymore, like we used to do, when I happen to be driving near the border. I don’t even go anywhere near the bridge for fear I’ll get stuck in the line and wind up crossing.

      • In my experience you can take and carry firearms in Mexico, you just need a special permit. The cop who stops you will be happy to take the payment for the permit right there on the spot.

        • If you get the proper permit to bring a gun into Mexico for hunting or a shooting event AND you observe the formalities for carrying it unloaded, then you should be fine.

          Conversely, if you are caught with a gun violation in Mexico I wouldn’t count on getting out of it with a small bribe. To make such an assumption is to take a huge chance.

          First, you might get a Mexican cop who take offense at the idea that you are carrying a gun as an alien in Mexico. The gun-taboo is really strange in Mexico; most people will resent you carrying and doubly resent you carrying as an alien. The Mexican cop might wonder whether you are setting him up; what if you were sent to entrap him by the Federal authorities? He might not want to take that chance.

          Second, you don’t know the “going rate” for a gringo to bribe himself out of the charge of carrying a gun. If you don’t get the price right the cop may take you to his superior officer who will be more skillful in negotiating price with you. If you are unsuccessful negotiating with him you will be passed along up the chain-of-command where – eventually – you will find that you can’t meet his price. The more people who get involved the narrower the opportunity to negotiate your way out of the situation.

          What goes on in the Mexican judicial system is extremely opaque. If you like the idea of playing with fire, come to NJ. Have Shaneen Allen show you the ropes.

          Finally, don’t plan on not getting searched in Mexico. There is no 4A. No probable cause. Many years ago I was stopped by the Army while traveling with my wife and infant daughter. A soldier summarily stuck his head in the passenger window, opened the glove box and looked for a gun. I’d not be surprised to experience the same situation today.

        • I crossed into Mexico back in the early 80s when wandering the border with a friend from Germany, because it was a shorter road to where we were going. There was no border check point in that location back then (I think the road is closed now; they make everyone go to the big check points), but in the little town we passed through there was a sign politely requesting anyone who had come across the border to check in. The Mexican border guy was very friendly, especially once we got to talking in Spanish, and when he saw I had a rifle with me all he wanted to know was what kind it was and admire it — he even told me how to stow it to keep the Federales from finding it, because they were assholes in his view.

          Thanks to Bush Jr., the Mexicans aren’t so friendly any more (for that matter, neither are the Canadians).

  10. I had an almost similar situation with a backpack that began its useful life as my range bag. At a later point, I bought a true range bag. After it was transitioned to a travel bag, even after a few “thorough” searches, I managed to fly with it and a single live round of .22LR to Washington D.C. No issues. It was never found, until I began unpacking some stuff in my hotel room. I promptly disposed of it, because at the time, it was only worth like a…penny. Last I read, you’ve got about a 1 in 5 chance of walking through a TSA checkpoint with a loaded gun in your carry on. It’s that sloppy AND that bad at what it’s supposed to do.

  11. Flew to sub arctic Canada back in the mid 90’s for a Caribou hunt. Had all my gear, except for my rifle in a giant duffelbag, the same one I frequently would throw various and sundry items and ammo to go to the range with. I remember breezing through customs on both sides of the border, and again before the flight to the “bush”. No one looked inside my rifle case or bags. On the last day in camp, the day when it’s customary to tip your guide for a successful hunt, I discovered I had 100 .357 hollowpoint rounds in my duffel, according to my guide, strictly “verboten” in Canada at that time. He was very happy to take them as a tip, in lieu of cash, and i was happy to avoid tempting fate (again).

    • A perfect example of how the laws are so screwed up here that NO ONE is completely sure what is legal. Customs and Border Patrol did have an order forbidding IMPORT of HPs back then, until it was pointed out how stupid that was (hunting without expanding ammo is not the most humane at best). The rounds themselves however have always been perfectly legal to possess.

  12. Always go through my bags before I travel by air, just to make sure I don’t give them a reason to detain me. My carry on sometimes sees duty as a range bag, if my normal range bag won’t do (usually when I’m shooting long gun…or need to pack out more than a few pounds of tannerite).

    Luckily, I rarely fly. I’d much rather drive, the scenery is usually better and my truck gets pretty good mileage for what it is…

  13. I had to go to a courthouse In Portland once to give some testimony, and got raked over the coals for my keychain, which had a used .357 casing turned into a whistle on it. The guard wanted to confiscate it, insisting it counted as “live ammo”.

    Where do they find such morons for LEO positions?

  14. Hey Robert, This is ED the guy that tried taking good photographs for you at the NRA Convention in PA. I hope you are doing great!
    Well, The .22 situation exactly describes what just happened to me returning from Hawaii yesterday.
    I had flown with this bag for the last five years with no issues but returning from Hawaii they pulled a dud .22 from my back pack, that I always carry on. They had to run the empty bag through screening 4 times before finally pulling the cartridge from my pack. I couldn’t believe it was in there. TSA took a picture of my drivers license with the cartridge, asked for my phone number, filled out a report and had the Sheriff come and fill out a report. I almost missed the plane. They never searched me or questioned me, other than asking if I knew it was in there. One guy, TSA officer said, “your not going to do much damage with this” and another said “you guys from TX always have this stuff”. Officer also noticed it was tarnished from age and said” I can tell it’s been in there a while.
    My girlfriend didn’t want to leave my side but I sent her on to the plane anyway. She called me and told me the flight attendant said I wasn’t going to make the plane.
    Jokingly, I asked the TSA officer if I was going to have to run like OJ. Then I realized that probably wasn’t a good choice of words at the moment. As if run to escape.
    I made it home safely with no officer waiting for me as we landed. Crazy thing is, I had two flasks of whiskey 8oz. and 6oz and four airline bottles of Vodka. Officer pulled them out and put them back in. I had a relaxing flight home, drinking all the way until I fell asleep. 🙂 I wonder if anything will ever show up about this incident again?

    • I forgot to mention that I checked this bag thoroughly before traveling, Turning it upside down to remove any foreign objects. I never carry ammo in it but somehow it had the dud in it. I was confident they were wasting their time and was amazed when they came up with it. I had to show the officers it had been struck.

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