Flying With Valuables? Keep Them Safe And Carry A Gun!
In this day and age, with heightened airport security and insane flying fears, it may seem like an odd piece of advice. But that is just what has resurfaced in the internet recently, and for at least one guy, it's working. Put a gun in your checked bags and keep your valuables safe.
Boing Boing reported this back in 2006, and I suspect it caught on back then, too. But it appeared on reddit.com's radar last week, and I thought it was an interesting idea to say the least.
Since that terrible day back in 2001, flying with locked cases has been impossible. If you do lock them, the TSA is perfectly within their rights to break the lock to check your case. This means either a broken $10 lock, or a broken suitcase. Usually, most people just leave them unlocked and hope for the best. Well, hoping is all well and good, but for the thousands of travelers who "lose" valuables every year, it's not good enough.
Enter Bruce Schneier, who heard of someone using a gun in every case he flies with.
A "weapon" 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.
Now, that was in 2006 as I stated earlier. So, I wanted to do some digging. With the recent incident over Christmas, who knows what the rules are regarding firearms. What I found was that the rules are the same as Bruce describes. The complete list can be found here, but the main point is this: the case has to be LOCKED.
- The container must be locked. A locked container is defined as one that completely secures the firearm from access by anyone other than you. Cases that can be pulled open with little effort do not meet this criterion. The pictures provided here illustrate the difference between a properly packaged and an improperly packaged firearm.
- We recommend that you provide the key or combination to the security officer if he or she needs to open the container. You should remain present during screening to take the key back after the container is cleared. If you are not present and the security officer must open the container, we or the airline will make a reasonable attempt to contact you. If we can't contact you, the container will not be placed on the plane. Federal regulations prohibit unlocked gun cases (or cases with broken locks) on aircraft.
There are, of course, special circumstances for Law Enforcement Officers traveling with guns, which can be found here. But that's not what you really need to know about. In your case (no pun intended) you want the gun in your case. In that way, your case flies locked and secure, along with anything else that's in there. It's a great "flying hack" that helps you travel with valuables without worrying about losing them for the duration of your flight.
But what about the gun? Those are hard to come by, right? And there's hassle, too. Well, not if you go for the lowest common denominator and buy a starter pistol. I found a starter pistol at Amazon.com for just $53.95 plus shipping. Not only is that way cheaper than a "real" gun, it's also safer. After all, I know I wouldn't trust myself with a 9mm automatic. Not without training anyway.
You don't need to go as far as Bruce and buy one for each case. Just put the gun in the case with your valuables. You'll get special treatment for the case, and you'll also be the owner of something which may even act as a deterrent when you're not flying.
So, what do you think? Is the extra cost of a starter pistol worth it for a locked case? Do you think there is still a big risk of your property being stolen? Has Bruce just lost the plot completely? Or do you have a better way to travel with your valuables that you have to check, rather than carry on? Let us know.