As some of you may know, I am a hybrid firearm/aviation enthusiast and recently TTAG ran a story about Delta’s changes in their firearm transportation policy. So I did a little homework and called around to Delta, American, United, the TSA and a few industry colleagues who fly Delta quite often with firearms. The responses we got were rather surprising . . .
For starters, Delta’s new zip tie practice seems to have been supplemented with a law enforcement presence policy. NBC Miami reported that “A police officer will be at the location when the passenger picks up the baggage.” – an interesting twist that neither TTAG contributing reader mentioned.
I followed the Delta story on TTAG and a few other media outlets and the policy seemed to make no sense. After all, federal law prohibits labeling luggage that contains firearms. Our friends at Prince Law had a few things to say about that.
A plain text reading of the statute indicates:
“No common or contract carrier shall require or cause any label, tag, or other written notice to be placed on the outside of any package, luggage, or other container that such package, luggage, or other container contains a firearm.”
Several industry friends and associates claim that Delta’s practice is illegal. There’s only one thing they’re forgetting. We in the firearm industry react and adapt to federal law all the time. Case in point: when certain states banned the AR-15 by name, manufacturers just made products with names such as XM-15, LAR-15, ST-15, etc.
Federal law states that it’s illegal to label a bag that contains a firearm. What Delta is doing is labeling bags CAGPT. Since it doesn’t say “CONTAINS FIREARM” they figure they can use any other similarly vague steal-me-first sticker such as “REQUIRES SPECIAL HANDLING”, “FRAGILE”, “HIGH VALUE GOODS” or some derivative thereof. which Delta has done.
This reminds me of a line from a speech I gave last year to some state prosecutors.
What’s the difference between a regulated firearm being compliant to regular firearm circumventing the law?
If you’re defending it, exemplar is compliant.
If you’re prosecuting it, exemplar is circumventing.
Within the confines of this story, your view of Delta’s position is something akin to the above.
So they’re applying zip ties to passengers’ bags at the destination ostensibly to annoy anyone who wants to commit a mass shooting for three minutes until they manage to cut them off?
We asked TSA spokesperson Lisa Farbstein if TSA had, in fact, changed any firearm handling protocols, specifically regarding zip ties and CAGPT stickers. Their response was as follows:
“You are referring to a new policy that Delta has implemented. I recommend that you reach out to Delta for information on it and consider doing an online search on Delta and firearms. TSA’s firearm carry policy remains the same. TSA’s policy is here: https://www.tsa.gov/travel/transporting-firearms-and-ammunition“
So, our reader from the first post who indicated these new prompts were TSA-driven was in error – this appears to be a 100% Delta-driven move.
Naturally, we called Delta’s media team. Their response was as generic as one would expect.
Delta is committed to the safety of our customers and employees. Every day we look for ways to refine processes and procedures with the goal to improve safety and the overall travel experience.
Wondering what other airlines had to say about Delta’s policy or if they had any plans to change their firearm handling protocols, we called jetBlue, American, and United. Again, we got no response.
With that having been said — and seeing Facebook blow up with complaints from industry friends about zip ties and how there will be a massive exodus from Delta’s Diamond Medallion ranks — I asked a few folks why they’d be leaving Delta. The short answer: they’re refusing to be treated like criminals AND the additional time required to implement this policy at the baggage destination wastes time they they don’t have to begin with.
This begs the question: What exactly is the protocol for having law enforcement present when a passenger engages in potentially illegal activity…like picking up their luggage?
Since we were unable to get a comment from anyone at the Delta media team, we decided on an innovative approach. We went right to the origin of this idiotic policy. We called the Fort Lauderdale Airport Police.
The Broward Sheriff’s Office has a district office for airport operations and we spoke to it’s captain, a nice fellow by the name of Roy Liddicott. Captain Liddicott provided background that we were unable to get from Delta.
TTAG: Is BCSO stationing law enforcement near Delta’s Baggage service office to help comply with this policy?
TTAG: Is this the first you’ve heard of this?
BSCO: Heard of what?
TTAG: Delta’s policy requiring a law enforcement presence when passengers retrieve their luggage containing firearms at their destination.
BCSO: I have not heard anything about this from Delta.
So, let’s get this straight. Delta has instituted a zip tie policy for bags containing firearms and are requiring a law enforcement presence when they pick up said bags, because someone flew Delta and shot up an airport.
The law enforcement agency at that airport has no knowledge of Delta’s new policy, much less the staff in place to enforce it. Are we to believe that this is being done for our safety? Is Delta using magic zip ties? Were they purchased from the same person who sold Jack his beans?
Good afternoon folks, this is your first officer speaking. You’re being taken for a ride.