Air travel with guns. Caveat: travelling through California.


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heypete
August 8, 2007, 01:30 AM
Wow. I totally flubbed this one. I had no idea I accidentally posted this thread three times.

My apologies to the mods -- I owe you guys a beer. Could you merge this thread with http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=294404, and then close this one?

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heypete
August 8, 2007, 01:31 AM
[Would normally be posted to Legal & Political, but that forum is closed. Please accept my apologies.]

I will be traveling on August 10th from Phoenix, AZ to San Jose, CA on US Airways, where I will stay for 8 days (visiting family/friends) before flying on to my final destination for a match.

I've read and understood the TSA and US Airways rules relating to checking firearms as cargo. There doesn't seem to be any issue with checking my Pelican rifle case, as it's a locked (two padlocks, in fact), hard-sided container.

However, I'm not entirely clear on their policy relating to containers within containers. I have a small, locked pistol case for my XD-45 that I wish to transport inside of a common wheeled piece of luggage. Due to some excesses by the TSA a long time ago, the bag's zipper locking loops have been cut, so I cannot lock the luggage itself. Can I transport the locked, hard-sided pistol case inside of an unlocked piece of luggage?

Update: US Airways phone reps say that's not a problem, so long as the gun case itself is locked. The guy had to go check on it, so I'm not 100% sure. Anyone with practical experience care to chime in? I intend to use a cable lock to secure the pistol case to a piece of the luggage's metal framework to prevent it from simply being removed from the luggage by an unscrupulous inspector/baggage handler.

.....

I'm going to be staying in California for 8 days, and I'll be transporting an AR-15 in the Pelican case. My understanding is that the TSA doesn't really give a damn what you're transporting or what individual state laws are regarding guns, so long as the gun itself is unloaded and transported in accordance with TSA and airline regulations.

Update: I just called the TSA, and they said there'd be no problems with them relating to the checking of firearms either to or from California. They requested that I contact California DOJ for more information (which I did, though it may take a day or two to hear back).

However, I wish to avoid a scene at the airport in San Jose when checking the case, and wish to avoid any possible entanglements with California police relating to traveling with an "assault weapon" in the rare event that I have contact with California police officers. My understanding of the FOPA '86 is that it protects travelers while actively traveling, but I'm not sure if it protects travelers during a brief stay such as my own.

Obviously, the AR would discretely remain in the locked Pelican case during my stay in California and I would maintain my usual low profile. My concern arises with the requirement that the case be opened and the guns verified to be unloaded at the airport itself, which is crawling with cops/security.

I somehow doubt the police would show up at the door and search my parent's home, and if I were stopped by the police while driving to the airport I could claim protection under the FOPA.

Have any other members of this community traveled in similar situations? Any advice or information? Any citations or documented precedents would be very handy "just in case", but personal anecdotes would also be nice.

Thanks!

Kilgor
August 8, 2007, 01:40 AM
First, assuming possession of the AR-15 is illegal in California, why would you take it?

Second, I flew a week ago with a handgun. It was very easy and I highly recommend you do it. The gun must be in a locked container and ammunition must be in original packaging, hard plastic ammo boxes, or magazines with the bullets covered such as a mag carrier for your belt. I also locked my case to the suitcase with a cable lock, though this is not required. They will require you to sign and date an orange firearms declaration and put it in the suitcase, NOT the locked gun case. Then they will either put it on the conveyor belt or you will have to give your bag to a TSA employee at the baggage screener. That will depend on the airport setup. Make sure you declare your firearm to the ticket counter person AND the TSA agent and make sure that you are told by TSA that it passed inspection before proceeding to security.

musher
August 8, 2007, 01:42 AM
FOPA gives you protection when traveling between two destinations where your gun is legal, even if it is not legal at some points in between. The problem, as I see it, is that an 8 day stay in CA could (and probably would) be construed as a destination. Since the AR is not legal in CA (one of your destinations), you would not be under the protection of the FOPA.

If at all possible, I would suggest mailing the AR to your final destination. If you mail it to yourself, in care of someone you trust at the final destination, then it is legal. Just be sure to tell your friend/whatever at the receiving end NOT to open the box, as that could be construed as taking possession of the AR making the whole thing an illegal interstate transfer.

Since the AR is a rifle (I'm assuming), you can use US mail to mail it at little cost.

I wouldn't take the thing into CA via an airline unless you fancy staying for substantially longer than 8 days. :eek:

heypete
August 8, 2007, 01:53 AM
First, assuming possession of the AR-15 is illegal in California, why would you take it?

Because I'll be using it in a match in Nevada immediately following my trip to California. Basically, my routing is as follows: Phoenix-->San Jose-->Las Vegas-->Phoenix. Mailing it to Vegas isn't an option, as there's nobody to receive it for me. Taking an alternate route isn't an option. I'm not really sure if there's any sort of alternate methods to accomplish my goal of having the rifle with me while in Vegas while avoiding going to jail in California.

crazed_ss
August 8, 2007, 01:57 AM
Dont bring any mags over 10 rounds into CA.
Dont bring any "Assault Weapons" into CA.

Here is the law on what is and isnt an AW in CA.
http://ag.ca.gov/firearms/dwcl/12275.php

Depending on what model of AR you have, you could therotically bring it here by removing some parts. If your rifle is built on a non-listed receiver, you could remove the pistol grip and make sure it had no other evil features (thumbhole stock, folding or telescoping stock, grenade launcher or flare launcher, flash suppressor, forward pistol grip) .. it would then be CA Legal.

Here is the list of banned ARs/AKs.. http://ag.ca.gov/firearms/infobuls/kaslist.pdf
So, like I said, if your rifle is built on receiver that is NOT on that list, you could configure it without the pistol grip and without evil features and it would be CA Legal.

If I'm not making sense, post over at calguns.net and they might be able to give you a clearer answer.

Red State
August 8, 2007, 01:58 AM
I have checked my pistol in my luggage with no problems. A locked, unloaded pistol case inside of an unlocked bag was all that was required. Ammo required its own container inside of the luggage - I can't remember if that had to be locked or not.

I know that your AR is considered an assault weapon and that it is illegal to import them into the state. I am not sure if traveling here for a match qualifies as importing........ I may be wrong, but I would be a bit uneasy about bringing the AR or any high capacity magazines into the state.

Here is what I was looking for:

http://ag.ca.gov/firearms/ab991.php

Firearms Information for New California Residents
SHOTGUNS AND RIFLES
California law does not require persons moving into California report rifles or shotguns. One important thing to be aware of though is that certain rifles and shotguns may be defined as assault weapons in California and are prohibited from entering this state under most normal circumstances. Additionally, machine guns and ammunition feeding devices with the capacity to accept greater that 10 rounds may not be transported into California.

Kilgor
August 8, 2007, 01:58 AM
Ship it to a gunshop in Vegas.

heypete
August 8, 2007, 02:00 AM
FOPA gives you protection when traveling between two destinations where your gun is legal, even if it is not legal at some points in between. The problem, as I see it, is that an 8 day stay in CA could (and probably would) be construed as a destination. Since the AR is not legal in CA (one of your destinations), you would not be under the protection of the FOPA.

Understood. I contacted the CA DOJ Firearms Division for more confirmation on this issue.

Any point where I would have reason to contact the police (traveling to and from the airport, checking in, etc.) I believe I'd be covered by the FOPA as I'd be in the process of actively traveling. It's just that I fear the gate agents/security folks in San Jose overreacting to the rifle and summoning police, who in turn may overreact. In all likelihood, it'll go off smoothly without any hitches, but there's still that nagging concern.

crazed_ss
August 8, 2007, 02:01 AM
Posted this in your dupe thread..

Dont bring any mags over 10 rounds into CA.. it's a felony
Dont bring any "Assault Weapons" into CA.. it's a felony

Here is the law on what is and isnt an AW in CA.
http://ag.ca.gov/firearms/dwcl/12275.php

Depending on what model of AR you have, you could therotically bring it here by removing some parts. If your rifle is built on a non-listed receiver, you could remove the pistol grip and make sure it had no other evil features (thumbhole stock, folding or telescoping stock, grenade launcher or flare launcher, flash suppressor, forward pistol grip) .. it would then be CA Legal.

Here is the list of banned ARs/AKs.. http://ag.ca.gov/firearms/infobuls/kaslist.pdf
So, like I said, if your rifle is built on receiver that is NOT on that list, you could configure it without the pistol grip and without evil features and it would be CA Legal.

If I'm not making sense, post over at www.calguns.net and they might be able to give you a clearer answer.

heypete
August 8, 2007, 02:09 AM
Red State -- Good catch. I saw that too, but my understanding of it is that it applies to new California residents, not those visiting/traveling through the state. I could very well be wrong, and will hear back from the DOJ in the next day or two with an official answer.

Gord
August 8, 2007, 02:14 AM
Not sure why you think FOPA is going to protect you. You're not "actively traveling" - you're flying to California, and then eight days later, you're flying to Vegas. By your logic, I should be able to bring a full-auto into CA, stay in a motel for a month, and then leave, so long as I've pre-planned the departure for a certain date.

Have fun explaining that theory to four carloads of cops if you're found to be in possession of an "assault rifle," in San Jose no less... barely outside San Fran's shadow.If you're required to handle or discuss the gun inside the airport, it *will* be noticed and you're very likely to meet some of CA's boys in blue.

Make arrangements to have it shipped to somewhere in Vegas. Not difficult. I'm sure a gunshop somewhere would be happy to earn some cash for sticking it in "the vault" - or maybe the event organizers. Not sure how that would be considered "more difficult" than trying to legally get an AR into California for eight days. :confused:

This advice certified to be worth what you paid for it.

heypete
August 8, 2007, 02:23 AM
Tactical Ninja - That's exactly why I was asking here, to see if my interpretation of FOPA protection was correct or incorrect. It would seem that, due to the 8 day stay, I would not be protected during the stay itself, but may (?) be protected when traveling to the airport itself.

I was hoping to keep the rifle with me throughout the journey. Assuming it were legal (which it seems as though it would not be...*shakes fist at California*), I wouldn't have to bother with the cost of shipping the gun, the possibility of shipping delays, the costs of the dealer receiving/storing the gun, and possibly needing to fill out a 4473/do a NICS check to get the gun back from the dealer.

Obviously, the costs of doing so are much less than any sort of legal confrontation in California. And that's probably what I'll end up doing if the CA DOJ nixes my plan to take it with me. I may just end up mailing it to myself, but addressed to the hotel's office (after alerting the hotel to the incoming case). That'll probably be easier, and without the dealer fees.

Librarian
August 8, 2007, 03:55 AM
Oddly, if you were coming to an organized match actually in California, bringing in your AR would be legal [PC 12280(m)]; AFAIK, the 10-round mag requirement remains.

Also, AFAIK, the police at Mineta International (San Jose Airport) do not have the reputation of NY/NJ Port Authority; if the airlines will check it, I suspect it will be treated as just another piece of luggage. But if it should come to the attention of The Authorities, well, 12280. (a) (1) Any person who, within this state, manufactures or
causes to be manufactured, distributes, transports, or imports into
the state, keeps for sale, or offers or exposes for sale, or who
gives or lends any assault weapon or any .50 BMG rifle, except as
provided by this chapter, is guilty of a felony, and upon conviction
shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for four, six,
or eight years.


I do agree that the stop in CA seems as if it would cancel the FOPA benefits

Nomad101bc
August 8, 2007, 04:05 AM
I thought the so called "assault weapons clause" was struck down as unconstitutional. Wow had no idea CA was such a terrible state now i really do hope it breaks off and sinks in an earth quake! Glad my parents decided to leave that wretched place only a few years after I was born.

These laws were great at stopping those bank robbers with 100 round mags, full auto AK-47's, armor piercing rounds that no cibvilain is supposed to have access to, and higher than military grade body armor, ahh the rant could go on....

Gord
August 8, 2007, 05:06 AM
Uhm, the California "assault weapons" ban was put in place pretty much solely because of that incident.

Not sure where you're getting your info - the Federal AWB included a sunset clause which went into effect in '04, ten years after it was implemented, and California's AWB has no such clause.

The western counties allow CCW at an acceptable level, or so I hear, but between the AWB, the ten-round mag limit, the CA-DOJ approved handgun roster and the ten-day wait (not to mention the fees... yech) the state is pretty gun-unfriendly as a whole.

Not my problem anymore, though - I just moved to Utah and Feinstein can rot. :D

That's exactly why I was asking here, to see if my interpretation of FOPA protection was correct or incorrect.

Yeah, I apologize if I sounded a bit sarcastic - wasn't meaning to.

Even if someone here were an attorney specializing in California firearms law, the only way to really be safe would be to request a written, snail-mailed confirmation on CA-DOJ stationery. Even a print-out of their email response might not be taken for the truth. You can't be too careful with California, bureaucratic nightmare that it is.

Hkmp5sd
August 8, 2007, 05:36 AM
Uhm, the California "assault weapons" ban was put in place pretty much solely because of that incident.


The California AW ban started with the 1984 killing of 21 people at a McDonald's in San Ysidro with an Uzi carbine followed by the 1989 schoolyard shooting of 31 children by Patrick Purdey in Stockton CA using an AK-47.


As to the original post, ship the rifle to yourself c/o the hotel you will be staying and arrange for them to hold it for you. Alternative is ship it to yourself and have UPS/Fed-Ex hold it at their distribution center in Las Vegas and pick it up personally.

Kharn
August 8, 2007, 10:03 AM
Shipping the weapons to your hotel is the only way to go in this scenario, if they'll hold the weapons for the week before you check in.

FOPA only protects you if you're actively traveling. Stopping for any number of days for whatever reason would not be looked upon in a good light.

Kharn

heypete
August 8, 2007, 12:35 PM
Thanks folks -- it looks like mailing it to the hotel will be the best option.

Fortunately, this frees up an AR-sized hole in the foam in my Pelican case (I'll use a different case for mailing the AR), which I've now stuffed with two pistols and a bunch of .22LR ammo (all 100% California-legal). Now I can have a bit of fun at the range when visiting in California. Whoo! :D

Thanks again for all your help, and my apologies again to the mods for the goofy multi-posting that occurred.

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