Have gun, can travel -- but not in your carry-on

  • The TSA demonstrates the type of case permitted for transporting firearms in checked luggage on planes.

    The TSA demonstrates the type of case permitted for transporting firearms in checked luggage on planes. Marni Pyke | Staff Photographer

Updated 5/11/2015 6:37 PM

With a surge in cases of gun owners trying to bring firearms on flights in their carry-on luggage, authorities are launching a pre-emptive strike.

U.S. Transportation Security Administration authorities explained the proper way to transport guns on planes at a news event Monday and -- no, it's not in carry-on bags.


"As the numbers go up, we want to educate the public on the correct way to safely and legally travel with a firearm," Chicago area TSA Federal Security Director Kevin McCarthy said.

"There's a right way and a wrong way -- and the right way is with checked luggage."

In 2014, six firearms were uncovered during screening in carry-on luggage at Midway. Those instances have been surpassed already with seven cases of illegal weapons being found in 2015 at the Chicago airport.

At O'Hare International Airport, 20 guns were detected prior to boarding in 2014 and eight have turned up this year.

McCarthy advised passengers with firearms to check the TSA's and their airline's websites before flying for tips and to review state and local gun laws.

All firearms must be unloaded and placed in a locked, hard-sided container. Passengers should also declare their weapons to ticket agents when checking in at the airport and expect to fill out paperwork.

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The size of firearms allowed depends on individual carriers' policies.

Ammunition, frames, receivers, clips and magazines are also banned from carry-on luggage. If you're bringing ammunition, it should be packed in cardboard, metal, wood or other appropriate packaging, officials said.

Got a fake gun? Also prohibited in carry-ons, according to the TSA.

Passengers caught with firearms in carry-on luggage at Midway or O'Hare are handed over to Chicago police. Penalties range from fines of $1,500 to $7,000 for a single violation.

The TSA's warning comes prior to the Memorial Day weekend when 37.2 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home, the AAA estimates.

What other weaponry is not allowed in carry-ons?

The TSA has a massive list. Knives -- unless they're plastic or round-bladed ones used for butter -- are banned but allowed in checked luggage. Meat cleavers are also no-no's in carry-on, but OK in luggage.

The same goes for saber and swords.

Other forbidden carry-on items are: axes, cattle prods, crow bars, BB guns, flares, bows and arrows, cricket bats, hockey sticks and pool cues. Skates, however, are permitted.

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