Orlando Sentinel Freaks Out About Guns in Checked Luggage

No questions asked: 5 one-way flights with a gun – just like airport shooter Esteban Santiago the headline at orlandosentinel.com proclaims. Well, I have a question . . .

Did airline officials ask Contact Reporter David Hyde the usual questions posited to Americans flying with a firearm or firearms in their checked luggage? They did! “The ticket agent matter-of-factly asked for identification and typed on her computer.” She asked for ID! And Mr. Hyde had to fill out a form!

“May 10th already — where’s the time gone?” the ticket agent at American Airlines said as she wrote on a form for me to sign stating that the gun was unloaded and separated from the small box of ammunition in the locked case.

I consider the form a form of a question, don’t you? I guess willful ignorance is bliss when you’re trying to make mountain out of a flat piece of earth. Ignorance too. Like this . . .

And that was that. Four minutes and I was off. The same as checking any bag. The luggage was sent to the TSA checkpoint, which would inspect the bag, assure that the hard case and two padlocks were legal and scan it to guarantee that the gun was unloaded.

Uh, the TSA don’t scan your gun case to see if your gun is unloaded. A fact that Mr. Hyde could have easily ascertained if he’d Googled “why do airlines scan gun cases.” The third result: the latimes.com article Loaded Guns in checked bags aren’t on the TSA’s radar. In fact, the TSA test cases with guns in them for explosives.

Speaking of fake news, here are two bullet points [sic] from Mr. Hyde’s article:

* No one questioned that I was flying on only one-way tickets with only a gun, just as no one questioned Esteban Santiago.

* Although I was traveling with a concealed-carry permit, no one asked to see it.

Traveling with a gun — and only a gun — is legal. Should it be illegal? Should it be a cause for further investigation? I’m thinking no. And traveling with a gun without a carry permit is also legal, as you’re not carrying the gun.


You may have notice the reference to Esteban Santiago, the man who picked up his gun after his flight to Orlando and shot passengers in the baggage claim area. That event is what “inspired” this gun rights hit piece. Which is kinda strange considering how American airlines treated Mr. Hyde’s firearm.

One by one, the other passengers picked up their luggage. The conveyor belt was empty, and I had no bag. Was it lost? Had I done something wrong? I went to American Airlines’ baggage-claim office.

“Oh, it’s special handling,” the agent said after looking up my baggage-claim number. “Just a minute.” . . .

The American agent appeared with my bag after a few minutes, checked my driver’s license for identification and then handed over the luggage.

How on God’s green earth does that qualify as “no questions asked?” It doesn’t — unless you’re an agenda driven anti-gun rights writer. Newspaper? Whatever.

The rest of the article is a chronology of similar interrogations, procedures and a whole lot of nothingburger.

As we pointed out after the Santiago shooting, the possibility that a killer could retrieve his gun from his luggage and use it is unavoidable as long as people fly with guns. And even if they don’t. Baggage claim areas are unsecured — and largely unpatrolled — in both directions.

Make no mistake, the Sentinel are a coven of firearms fear mongers who hate gun rights, full stop. Need more evidence? How about this italicized “explanation” after Mr. Hyde’s polemic.

The trip involved three months of preparation and research into gun laws and airline policies to ensure that we followed all laws.

The trip involved three months of preparation and research into gun laws and airline policies to ensure that we followed all laws. Our reporter, who had never owned a gun, bought one legally at a gun shop, completed training for a concealed-carry permit, locked the unloaded gun in a case and checked the case properly for all flights.

We packed ammunition in the case, as allowed by law — and as Santiago did — but we packed shotgun shells that did not fit the handgun. If something went wrong, the gun could not be fired.

The trip included five airlines and five airports around the country, in order to explore whether the region or airline made a difference. On the advice of our attorneys, we avoided states with particularly tough handgun laws, including New York and California.

With the trip completed, the Sun Sentinel plans to donate the 9 mm handgun to the Broward County Sheriff’s Office.

Donate? They couldn’t wait to get rid of the evil [/sarc] thing. Just as I can’t wait to see these anti-gun publications continue their fall from grace into complete obscurity.


  1. avatar Joe R. says:

    Good way to get a gun stolen by criminals ( and/or the TSA).

  2. avatar Rusty Chains says:

    It took them 3 months and 5 airline tickets to publish their bit of non news, it is no wonder that newspapers are going out of business!

    1. avatar Hannibal says:

      Seriously. How much money did they spend on this?

  3. avatar Mark says:

    This brings to mind Mark Kelly husband of the former Congresswoman who had gone to a local gun store to show how easy it was to buy an evil assault weapon. Turns out there was a waiting period in their home state and during that time him buying the firearm made the press.
    And to try to deflect criticism, he claimed that he was intending to donate the rifle to the local police department. And at that time the store canceled the sale because he was attempting what amounted to a straw purchase.
    Perhaps the dealer should report the sale to the authorities since if this reporter was intending the same it would also be a straw purchase.

    1. avatar strych9 says:

      “And at that time the store canceled the sale because he was attempting what amounted to a straw purchase.”

      Really, I think that they just cancelled the sale because Mark Kelly was being a jackass. What he was doing wouldn’t have been a straw purchase according to the ATF because that would require him to act as “an agent” of someone he knew, should have known or had reason to believe was a prohibited person.

      1. avatar Mark says:

        I personally go with the jackass part. He was so busy tap dancing and trying to assign some noble cause to his purchase that he set himself up.

      2. avatar Nick says:

        I could be wrong about this, but my understanding of the straw purchase law was that it didn’t matter if the recipient is or isn’t a prohibited person. If you’re buying it on their behalf, it’s a straw purchase and you have perjured yourself on your 4473.

        1. avatar John E> says:

          you can buy it as a gift, and you can also choose later to donate. If you buy for a prohibited person, that is a straw purchase.

        2. avatar Big Bill says:

          John E says: “you can buy it as a gift, and you can also choose later to donate. If you buy for a prohibited person, that is a straw purchase.”

          This, like a LOT of statements, is true only as far as it goes. It leave out a lot of other, relevant, things.
          Depending on who you ask, that may or may not be the ONLY definition of a straw purchase. According to what I’ve seen using only a Google search, the ATF doesn’t see it quite that simply. The intended recipient (as opposed to actual purchaser) doesn’t need to be a prohibited person to have a straw purchase.
          One of the problems with the law as it stands is that you must say you are the actual buyer (“Are you the actual transferee/buyer of the firearm(s) listed on this form?”); this is interpreted to mean you are the ultimate owner/possessor of the gun. Check the “Yes” box, even if the gun is meant as a gift and you’ve perjured yourself.
          If the gun is given as a true gift, probably no problem.

        3. avatar Robert davis says:

          Big Bill, “Check the “Yes” box, even if the gun is meant as a gift and you’ve perjured yourself.”

          That isn’t the case. ATF Form 4473 (5300.9) Revised October 2016, Page 4, instructions for question 11.a. states, “A person is also the actual transferee/buyer if he/she is legitimately purchasing the firearm as a bona fide gift for a third party”.

        4. avatar Drake_Burrwood says:

          Actually I think you’re Right but while you can buy it as a gift.. you don’t fill out the form or go through “The Call” the gifts recipient does it.

    2. avatar Ollie says:

      Kelly is running for president in 2020.

      1. avatar LarryinTX says:

        Whoopee. So is Hillary. So is Joe Biden. So is Elizabeth Warren. Oprah may join in. And on and on, all of them on the same platform; “Trump sucks, I will give you free shit!”, and absolutely nothing else.

        1. Kanye West and Catlyn Jenner as a running mate.
          The Republic is gone.

  4. avatar strych9 says:

    I was considering attending TTAG’s little soiree next month. Now I know how to get the trip for free: write some bullshit about how I traveled to Texas with a bunch of guns on an airplane.

    Apparently I can just lie about the experience and some paper will publish the garbage.

    1. avatar Ing says:

      Hey now, don’t you horn in on my game! There are only so many newspapers left out there, you know.

      1. avatar strych9 says:

        LOL. Damn, I knew someone had to have beat me to this.

  5. avatar CZ Peasy says:

    They got one thing right. Don’t travel to CA or NY.

    1. avatar binder says:

      Come on, they should have tried flying into New York. Then they would have had a real story.

    2. avatar Mark N. says:

      It should be NY and NJ. California doesn’t care if you travel with firearms as long as you follow TSA regs. Just don’t try to concealed carry that firearm while here if you are from out of state, or take the firearms out of the locked case unless you are at a temporary residence (hotel) or in an approved location such as a range or the forest. Although I am not one of them (I hardly ever travel), plenty of California residents fly all over the country with their guns. Many have multiple permits (Florida and Utah nonresident permits are probably the two most popular because of the large number of sates that grant reciprocity) so that they can carry at their destinations also.

      1. avatar Geoff says:

        Or Maryland, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Delaware, D.C., Hawaii, etc.
        Don’t go to any of the 10 most ant-gun States.

      2. avatar KBonLI says:

        Actually you can also fly in and out of NY with a firearm, my buddy does it all the time. Granted it is to and from Florida.
        A few years ago the agent put a firearms sticker on the outside of his bag. He had them remove it and placed on the inside.

        1. avatar M. Atkinson says:

          Not with a (handgun) unless you have a permit which is near impossible.

  6. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    Took him 3 months to book a few flights?
    what a maroon.

    1. avatar NorincoJay says:

      It goes to show how complicated our patchwork of gun laws are around our country. That it took this person 3 months to do it legally.

      1. avatar NineShooter says:

        And he had a corporate legal office filled with lawyers to research it, and make sure he didn’t run afoul of any laws.

        What about us poor peons who don’t have a cabal of legal sharks at our beck and call?

  7. I drove across the country with a gun. No questions asked! OMG!

    Y’all, an airplane is just a vehicle.

    A gunman walked into a gay bar and killed 49 people! No questions asked!

    If it weren’t for nonsense the media would have no sense at all.

    1. avatar Mud says:

      Your papers please.

    2. avatar JDS says:

      I shipped a handgun to my destination via UPS. Then I flew one way with no luggage at all since I had already shipped my backpack with the gun. Then I drove from WA to Florida with it and backpacked a lot of national forests while I carried it. I crossed many many many state lines with it loaded without notifying the authorities! OMG!

      1. avatar Big Bill says:

        Are you a licensed dealer (have a FFL)?
        According to UPS, “UPS accepts packages containing firearms (as defined by Title 18, Chapter 44, and Title 26, Chapter 53 of the United States Code) for transportation only (a) between licensed importers, licensed manufacturers, licensed dealers, and licensed collectors (as defined in Title 18, Chapter 44 of the United States Code), and government agencies and (b) where not otherwise prohibited by federal, state or local law (i) from an individual to a licensed importer, licensed manufacturer, licensed dealer, or licensed collector; and (ii) from a licensed importer, licensed manufacturer, licensed dealer, or licensed collector to an individual.”
        This means, as far as I can read legalese, either the shipper or the recipient must be an FFL holder.
        I think.

        1. avatar Rincoln says:

          …or the owner. Firearms may be shipped to and by the registered owner.

        2. avatar LarryinTX says:

          In most sane places there is no “registered owner”. because there is no registration of firearms.

  8. avatar Blackjack says:

    There’s a reason Floridians call that rag the ‘slantinel.”

    1. avatar MiniMe says:

      Yes indeed. Not even worth buying to line the bottom of a bird cage.

  9. avatar NorincoJay says:

    I’m surprised the gun didn’t get out of the box and look for some 9mm ammo in someone else’s luggage and start “accidentally” discharging all over the place.

  10. avatar Frank in VA says:

    The comments section under that Sentinel article is ripe for some well deserved derision directed at the author.

    Release the hounds!

  11. avatar NorincoJay says:

    What was the point of this persons article? If you follow all the rules and do 3 months of research you can legally check a firearm in luggage?

    I assume she doesn’t think guns should be checked in luggage? Or legal gun owners should have to jump through a lot of hoops to exercise their constitutional right while air traveling?

  12. avatar Bostonirish14 says:

    Flew into boston’s logan airport last week, no security whatsoever at baggage claim. Maybe 50 feet between the baggage belt and the street with not even a turnstile inbetween. I actually went outside to smoke and kept walking in and out as I was waiting for my bags. Zero reason I would need to wait to retrieve my firearm if I have free and open acess to an unsecured area. I also loved seeing a bag on the belt with those stupid ass zip ties on it aka a great marking system if you want to steal a firearm and bolt out the wide open door

    1. “I also loved seeing a bag on the belt with those stupid ass zip ties on it aka a great marking system if you want to steal a firearm and bolt out the wide open door”

      You made that part up. Baggage Service applies the zip ties after the bag arrives so it would be in the baggage service office, not on the belt.

      1. avatar Big Bill says:

        I’ve seen zip ties on baggage at Sky Harbor.
        Bostonirish14 may have jumped to a conclusion about why they were there.

  13. avatar Tim says:

    So Mr. Hyde, you did something that is both legal AND constitutionally protected and as a result you’re upset you didn’t face hassles. delays, interrogations and trouble? If you despise gun rights that much there is a constitutional process to get the 2nd amendment repealed, you know the one that requires either 2/3 vote of BOTH houses of Congress to propose it OR 2/3 of the states to request a convention….. then 3/4 of the states must ratify it. Short of that sir you will just have to get used to the fact that one should NOT be hassled when doing something legal. Your poorly thought out and executed hit pieces only create concern where there was none and make a good argument for repeal of the 1st amendment since, by your logic, I think unadulterated hit pieces that are clearly due to a political agendas are as dangerous, if not more so, than you feel the second amendment is. Flying with a gun should incur no more hassle than flying while Muslim, or black, or essentially in any way that is legal to do. SMDH

  14. avatar AFGus says:

    And of course the Pseudo-Journalist did not take the time to research how many hundreds of thousands of times this legal activity goes on each and every year, with no blood baths occurring in luggage retrieval areas of hundreds of airports. I’d like to be able to calculate the percentage of times that something terrible happens, but I don’t think my calculator goes that low.

  15. avatar The Duke says:

    “Traveling with a gun — and only a gun — is legal. Should it be illegal? Should it be a cause for further investigation?”

    Because, because, because! He was following all the rules and regs about traveling with an instant-evil-death-ilizer machine which could alter his mind and cause him to start a infinite killing spree with no warning!!!! /s

    1. avatar Big Bill says:

      Some people get their only exercise from jumping to conclusions.
      One way ticket, and traveling with no luggage except for a gun, will tell some people that you are obviously expecting to die after using your gun to commit a terrorist act at your destination. The entertainment industry and the media work hard to validate this conclusion.
      Far too many people confuse fantasy and rhetoric for reality.

      1. avatar nightstryke says:

        Then boy do I have the greatest invention for them, I call it a “Jump to Conclusions Mat” it’ll be a hit!

  16. avatar BC says:

    I like how they bought shotgun ammo in case something went wrong, like the ammo jumping into the magazine, inserting itself and racking the pistol, all while encased. Holy crap these people are truly scared of inanimate objects!

    1. avatar LarryinTX says:

      And because they did that, there was no way the gun could have been fired! Unless, of course, someone applied a box of 9mm and a shotgun to the equation, after which you’d have TWO (gasp!) real guns!

  17. avatar DaveL says:

    Apparently they think gun laws that take 3 months of research just to comply with are somehow not stringent enough.

  18. avatar Jeb says:

    It was Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale), not Orlando Sentinel

  19. avatar Rand says:

    The writer didn’t include the fact that American puts a bright red tag on tbe luggage that has instructions to hold at the claim office for pickup.

  20. avatar Dan says:

    I travel with my firearm to wherever there is a concealed carry reciprocity agreement with my state. I typically fly Delta because it is one of the primary airlines at my airport. Since the Fort Lauderdale event, Delta has implemented a new policy to place large, heavy duty wire ties around any bad that has a firearm enclosed. As I was returning from a trip to Tampa last week, I was discussing the new procedure with the “Special Handling” [definition: steal this bag first] baggage agent. I mentioned the fact that we responsible gun owners are forced to leave the terminal with these huge straps around our bag. It is my opinion that this makes us an easy target of criminals because …. wait for it…wait for it…criminals are lazy and what better way to identify how to steal a gun.

    I place a knife just inside the zipper and once I get outside, I cut the straps off.

  21. avatar Madcap_Magician says:

    Alternate Headline: Law-abiding Citizen Follows All Laws, Nothing Happens

  22. avatar Mmmtacos says:

    He goes this far to look into Esteban Santiago’s means of carrying out an act of terrorism but not his motive? No, of course not, that would be Islamophobic, wouldn’t it?

    Between the means and the motive both have happened several times, but one seems to have a pattern of violence while the other doesn’t.

  23. avatar BDub says:

    Two things.

    1) This entire piece smacks more of entertaining a sick fantasy of what it might be like to BE E. Santiago, than it does investigative journalism.

    2) They used shotgun shells, “in case something went wrong”? More sick fantisizing. What were they imagining went wrong – the reporter deciding to roleplay a bit too seriously?

    The whole thing is sick.

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