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Thanks to the TSA!, c Nick Leghorn

No, seriously. Let me explain . . .

I was on my way back from the Crimson Trace Midnight 3-Gun shoot. We had finished shooting around 2 AM the night before and then I went back to the hotel room and threw everything in their bags and cases to get ready for my early flight that morning. I was completely exhausted and wasn’t caring too much about making sure to cross all my “t”s dotting my “i”s. So when it came time to chuck my magazines in the bag, instead of unloading the remaining ammo into the manufacturer’s cardboard boxes (like the guidelines for traveling with firearms say to), I just threw them into the bag. Even then it should still be OK, so long as the ammunition was completely enclosed in the magazine. Except mine weren’t.

When it came time for the TSA to screen my bags for the flight out of Redmond (RDM) they found the magazines, sans covers. At that point, they could have easily chucked the mags and left a love note, or just dumped all the ammo into the skip. Instead, someone took the time to fashion some covers for my magazines out of the TSA inspection leaflets and some tape.

My laziness could have led to a serious shortage of magazines on my end, only days before I need to ship out to the Pro/Am in Kentucky, but the TSA went out of their way to do me a solid. So while I may not agree with the security theater that they enforce, a special thanks is in order to the guys at the front line who used a touch of common sense and some customer service to make sure that everything made it home.

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  1. I used to travel every week on business. That was before 9-11, so no TSA.

    But back then, most airport security people were retired cops. I expect most converted over to TSA employment when the time came. So it’s actually pretty likely that a gun guy spotted a friend. In any case, probably more likely than we’d often admit.

      • I wrote, “more likely than we’d often admit”. Thank you for illustrating my point.

        Consider, for a moment, how I would have learned to spot retired cops. Think about what that means about who would have taught me to shoot. Consider whose gun collection would have been used.

        Best not to post, and allow people to assume you are a fool, than to post and remove all doubt.

      • Actually, I know quite a few firearm friendly LEO. In fact, 3 of my holsters were designed and manufactured by a couple of local LEO.

    • Sadly Al, after 9-11 a lot of retired cops applied to TSA, almost en masse, and they were almost ALL told “No Thanks” They were not “What we’re looking for” While in some places TSA has gotten better, in others TSA has gotten worse. Nick Got incredibly Lucky.

  2. You found the one pro-gun TSA agent in the entire country.

    Recognize your luck, and make sure that you don’t make that mistake again.

  3. While it is indeed awesome the TSA agent did you a solid, it illustrates the absurdity of the regulations that a folded flyer and some tape magically made your mags “safe” to fly.

  4. A thanks to the TSA isn’t in order so much as a thanks to the individual(s) who probably went against TSA mandates to show common sense and now are facing disciple because you published this thank you. 😉 All in all, great positive story for the day! Good luck at the next shoot!

  5. I usually don’t have many kind words to say about the TSA, but an organization that large is likely to have at least a few good apples.

    • Yeah, exterminating millions of jews vs. silly regulations on flying with ammunition. Pretty much on the same level, right?

      Jesus, sometimes I wonder about you people…

    • Jesus. Not everybody who works for the government is a goose stepping, jackbooted fascist. Especially not in Redmond, Oregon.

  6. Hey, I wrote a post about something very similar to this a couple years back. Based on my experience with that, Nick, be prepared for a bunch of “bootlicker” and “may your chains rest lightly upon you” bullshit type abuse.

  7. I had a good experience last week with checking a firearm. It was my first time flying with a gun and I was playing out all sorts of disaster scenarios. Instead, the guys that checked my gear were polite and friendly and wanted to see me on my way. It was a good experience.

    • Threat of sequester furloughs can do that.

      Unfortunately, it can work both ways. You caught TSA workers with good intentions.

  8. A hearty thanks to a fellow Oregonian who was sane. I had a TSA document checker in Portland who couldn’t read a passport correctly a few years ago. Told me it was expired when he was reading the issue date.

  9. I was flying back to Toronto from Boston a few years back and bought 4 x 1911 magazines cheap from a store in Maine. I left them along with a new holster in my carry-on bag. Well when the bag went through x ray the head nazi TSA person went ballistic and pulled me aside and started scolding me for carrying prohibited material and that I committed a felony. I was stunned. She was rude but I kept my cool and just nodded as I listened.
    She called the state troopers who showed up shortly and questioned why I left loaded magazines in my carry on. I replied that they were EMPTY and brand new. He looked me, looked at the TSA dummy and shook his head. Later told me I am free to go and there is no problem.
    Once through security we met up and he bought me a coffee and we started a nice long chat about guns and what an idiot the TSA person was. Nice end to a bizarre incident.

  10. the security screener must be the one person in all of TSA that is, at the very least, understanding of the pain the a## that traveling with gun stuff is. i hope to meet him/her.

  11. Well yeah, you went through Redmond. Redmond is probably one of the most gun friendly places I’ve ever been, and most people who live there are pretty understanding about guns and gun ownership.

  12. You shouldn’t be grateful at all. This person (I use the term loosely, as the type of subhuman garbage that would take a job that consists entirely of violating the rights of others is not really a person) violated your rights to a lesser extent than he could have? That’s like thanking the judge for letting you off with a lesser charge, after getting arrested for a victimless crime.

    If you thank them for this sort of thing, it builds the mindset that what they’re doing is acceptable. It is not. Criminals with badges are criminals.

    Also, by their own rules, he was not allowed to examine your luggage without you present. How did he get in? You should be the only person with access to the luggage.

  13. This is the second post I’ve seen here recently that mentioned a requirement to put ammo back in the boxes. Where is that requirement? The only thing I’ve ever seen is this, from the TSA site:

    Travelers must securely pack any ammunition in fiber (such as cardboard), wood or metal boxes or other packaging specifically designed to carry small amounts of ammunition.

    I would consider my box magazines to be “packaging specifically designed to carry small amounts of ammunition.” Wouldn’t you?

    • I would consider my box magazines to be “packaging specifically designed to carry small amounts of ammunition.” Wouldn’t you?

      I suspect the airlines dont want a round sneaking out of a mag and punching a hole through a bag and rolling around the cargo bay mid flight. You’d be surprised how much havok something small can cause.

    • The TSA regulations are just as you said, but most airlines have a line in their regulations that says packaging sufficient to “provide separation between the cartridges.” That means magazines are out, because they don’t provide separation. The stricter rules are the ones that you have to go by, generally. The airlines don’t have to let you fly on their planes, if you don’t want to follow their regulations.

      • To be specific:

        Delta: Ensure small arms ammunition is packed in the manufacturer’s original package or securely packed in fiber, wood, plastic or metal boxes and provide separation for cartridges.

        USAir: Ammunition clips with ammunition loaded are not accepted. Ammunition must be packed in the original manufacturing package or constructed of wood, fiber, plastic, or metal and provide separation for cartridges.

        Allegiant: Ammunition must be in the manufacturer’s original container, or equivalent fiber, wood, or metal container specifically designed to carry ammunition. This carrier must provide sufficient cartridge separation.

        Those are the three I fly regularly. My buddy flies Southwest, and (in addition to all the other ways that Southwest is awesome) they are very specific about their instructions, and they do allow loaded magazines.

        Southwest: The ammunition may be placed in the same container as the firearm and must be securely packed in cardboard (fiber), wood, or metal boxes, or other packaging specifically designed to carry small amounts of ammunition. Magazines or clips containing ammunition must be securely packaged (placed in another small box or in a secure cutout in the carrying case, in order to protect the primer of the ammunition). Loose ammunition or loose loaded magazines and/or clips are not allowed.

        The lesson here, as ever, is Check with your airline before you fly.

        • I went on Delta with loaded mags in April. Oops.

          I’ve never had any clerk do anything more than look in the case to see there is a gun. I have a bunch of Dillon ammo boxes in the closet, maybe I should start taking one when I fly, in case they catch me.

      • I agree with you to a point. However, show me an airport that was super funded by Fed, state and local taxes to build, maintain and operate and I will agree with you fully.

  14. Dumb question, but were your mags in an unlocked piece of baggage or in your checked and locked rifle case? If it was the latter, then I thought they weren’t supposed to open it up unless you were present?

    • True. They are NOT supposed to have the key to the gun case once it has been cleared at the desk and the orange card placed inside.

  15. it also helps to remember that some of the regulations governing ammunition are not TSA regulations, but FAA regulations being enforced by the TSA.

  16. Eek! He said “common sense!”

    BTW, forgot to post this under gun phrases, so I’ll do so here. Regarding to grabbers: Commie sense.

  17. I have been travelling alot on company business in the last few weeks. Out of 8 flights, I have been checked for explosive residues on about 6 of them after passing through security.

    I tell the operator straight up I have been handling firearms and munitions if I was competing the day before the flight, and/or I have been in a rural supply store where fertilizer and ammunition are sold in case there is a positive result. So far there has not been a positive result and the operators thank me for my honesty. I have even assisted the shops with some ammunition sales.

    I have been through security so many times lately it is instinctive for getting my stuff through the checkpoint. Tray 1: laptop. Tray 2: laptop bag containing my other equipment (chargers, network cables, power board, notebook, pens (which I’m amazed no-one has realized the lethal potential of), and travel documents). Tray 3: wallet, keys, and phones.

    It has been a fun way to see some parts of the country I haven’t seen in about 30 years (Adelaide to Mildura, and Alice Springs) or haven’t seen at all (Darwin and Katherine).

  18. I have flown with ammunition loaded in pistol magazines numerous times and never had a problem. Mind you, the magazines were usually in a pouch or otherwise locked up in the same case as the firearm. I never just threw a loaded magazine into my bag. As alluded to above, there is no requirement that they have to be in the manufacturer’s packaging.


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