If you’re traveling with equipment you would prefer it locked up and watched more closely than your run of the mill luggage, you can pack a firearm with the equipment or luggage. Whether or not you own an actual firearm isn’t important—the TSA considers a starter pistol a firearm, and it must be checked in and secured properly. Bruce Schneier, on his security and privacy centered blog, highlights how some creative professional photographers have been using this rule to their advantage. One of the photographers writes:
A “weapons” is defined as a rifle, shotgun, pistol, airgun, and STARTER PISTOL. Yes, starter pistols – those little guns that fire blanks at track and swim meets – are considered weapons…and do NOT have to be registered in any state in the United States. I have a starter pistol for all my cases. All I have to do upon check-in is tell the airline ticket agent that I have a weapon to declare…I’m given a little card to sign, the card is put in the case, the case is given to a TSA official who takes my key and locks the case, and gives my key back to me. That’s the procedure. The case is extra-tracked…TSA does not want to lose a weapons case. This reduces the chance of the case being lost to virtually zero. It’s a great way to travel with camera gear…I’ve been doing this since Dec 2001 and have had no problems whatsoever.
You can find security expert Bruce Schneier’s latest book here.
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