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How Packing a Gun Protects Valuables From Airline Theft

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the stop-or-my-luggage-will-shoot dept.

Transportation 52

mobileworker writes "If you don't like your bags being out of your sight and it makes you uncomfortable to think that airline workers are rifling through your stuff, you should read this article by Jason Fitzpatrick of Lifehacker who explains how you can take advantage of the TSA's own security rules by — eek — packing a gun. You can alternatively decide to have your luggage shipped to your destination by FedEx, UPS or US Postal Service ground shipping. It's cheaper than having them checked with the airline, and you can be sure that you'll have them delivered, and on time!"

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the gun (1)

incripshin (580256) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248074)

That gun looks pretty badass. Is it real or a model from some game?

Re:the gun (1)

jittles (1613415) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248392)

Looks pretty real to me. Why don't you just look down the end of the barrel and tell me if you can see a bullet in the chamber?

Re:the gun (1)

autoevolution (1519077) | more than 4 years ago | (#31249552)

I'm pretty sure thats a mateba, an auto-revolver, like a revolver, only automatic.

Re:the gun (1)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 4 years ago | (#31260318)

It is a Mateba. I've always wanted to on one, just for the novelty. They're getting more and more expensive as collector pieces though, since the company went out of business. It's not "like a revolver". It is a revolver. It's just a revolver that automatically cocks and advances the cylinder with a blowback slide, instead of automatically cocking and pulling a round off the top of the magazine, like most automatics do.

Re:the gun (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31267490)

All the aesthetics of a revolver, none of the reliability.

Re:the gun (1)

Phezult (729465) | more than 4 years ago | (#31249574)

From the original lifehacker article, I believe the author suggested using a starting pistol, which doesn't fire actual bullets, and is therefore cheaper and less regulated, but still classified as a firearm by the TSA.

Re:the gun (1)

JockTroll (996521) | more than 4 years ago | (#31249870)

It looks like a Mateba Unica autorevolver.

Re:the gun (2, Informative)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 4 years ago | (#31249884)

That photo is from the Wikipedia entry for Mateba Autorevolver [] . It was uploaded by LoCo CNC on 02/06/2008

    It is a Mateba Model 6 Unica. My guess from the picture is that it's a 6" .357 Magnum. You could probably print the the picture, along with the Wikipedia page, and take it to a local gun shop. They may have have one, but they seem a bit pricey. has This one [] for $2,900 starting bid, $4,600 buy it now price.

    I already have a decent selection of pistols, so for the price, I'd probably go with a FN PS-90 [] or Colt AR15 []

    For a throw away gun to trust the airlines with, I'd recommend something more like a Jennings J-22 [] . They're cheap, common, horribly inaccurate, and prone to jamming. I can group the size of a quarter at 30' with my .45's, but with the Jennings I was lucky to get a grouping the size of a dinner plate. If it was lost, you wouldn't have to worry about anyone getting hurt, unless it fell from the plane and hit them in the head.

    I have transported weapons on airlines, carefully following their rules, and verifying I was doing the right thing the whole way. "Hi, I'm checking in. I have to declare a weapon in my bag. It is unloaded and locked in its case." It got special (but polite) attention on the way out.

      It wasn't until I got to LAX that I worried. There was absolutely no special treatment there. I snagged by bag from baggage claim and left without anyone verifying that it was mine.

    It felt a bit funny walking around a major international airport with a gun (in the luggage).

Re:the gun (1)

NoxNoctis (936876) | more than 4 years ago | (#31250250)

It is interesting how some airports pay closer attention to luggage than others, isn't it? I've only been to one (PHX if I'm remembering right) that actually has someone verifying the bag you grab is actually your own. At the time I was much younger and thought it a huge waste of my time. Now that I'm older and have better toys (firearms, expensive cameras, computers, etc), I wish more airports would check.

Re:the gun (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 4 years ago | (#31255576)

    I've flown all over the place. I'm pretty sure I've been to or through every major airport in the country. I've been to Phoenix Sky Harbor (PHX) many times, but that's never been a destination. Most of them are very lax about baggage claim. When it hits the news that someone is caught stealing luggage, and have hundreds of bags at home, I'm not surprised in the least.

    The only airport where they've been extremely strict about it, that I can recall, was the Las Vegas McCarran (LAS). It's been a while since I flew into there though. I lived close by, so it was easier to drive, than to deal with the airports.

    Once, I was with a group that flew in. Things got completely hosed. A friend in the group knew my bags, so I went to get the rental car. Since I had my boarding pass, with the baggage stickers on it, they couldn't get out of the terminal with my bags. I pulled up to the terminal door, but they wouldn't let me leave the car long enough to run to the door. Since the people I was picking up weren't standing at the curb, I had to move the car. {sigh} So off to parking, walk back, explain that my friends weren't stealing my bags, then walk them to the curb, run back to the car, and drive it around to get them.

    We were setting up for an event, so some of the bags were heavy, and traveling with a few women meant the muscle wasn't there to carry them all the way to the car. {sigh}

    I know Las Vegas has some screwy gun laws, so it's probably not a good destination to have a gun in your luggage. I could be mistaken though. I'd just read up on it a few years ago, and decided to leave the arms at home.

Re:the gun (1)

NoxNoctis (936876) | more than 4 years ago | (#31255956)

The gun laws for Clark County are a bit odd, but they have provisions that we forced on them by Nevada that allow people to not register their firearms for 60 days IIRC. This keeps people who are visiting from having to jump through hoops.

Re:the gun (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 4 years ago | (#31264842)

    That's good if they do.

    I know there is a federal law related to firearms transportation. If you are not residing in a location, but simply passing through, and the weapon is securely encased and unloaded, you are allowed by federal law to transport it. That would cover you, if you were driving through Las Vegas (or even New York City). Well, at least legally. You could still be arrested, and it would have to be argued by your lawyers. Then again, innocent people are arrested and charged all the time, it's up to the courts to return a "not guilty" verdict.

    I understand some places like Las Vegas wanting to keep the firearms in the area to a minimum. There's an awful lot of money floating around there, and desperate people can get very desperate and do "bad" things. If you just lost your life savings in a casino, but you still had a gun, it may seem like a good idea at the time, to go take someone else's money. "I lost everything. He won. He can afford it." Not that I'm saying it's a good idea, but it could be the thought process of a desperate person.

    I understand New York city invoked some pretty strict firearms laws too. Since I haven't traveled up there except for short work trips, I've never needed to transport through.

Re:the gun (1)

joshki (152061) | more than 4 years ago | (#31294898)

Do NOT attempt to transport a gun through any NY airport. You WILL be arrested. NY and MA both ignore FOPA 86. They don't care a whit about the federal laws that govern transport of weapons, and unless you've got tons of money to fight it in federal court, you'll lose that battle.

Re:the gun (2, Informative)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 4 years ago | (#31295044)

That's about the way I heard it.

    For those unaware of what he said, FOPA 86 has a "Safe Passage" provision on it, basically stating that if you're traveling from Point A to Point B, and somewhere along that route has a stricter gun law than the federal laws, you're safe as long as the weapon is unloaded and properly secured. Or more specifically, this. [] I used to keep a copy of this printed and locked away with my weapon(s) when transporting them, along with a copy of the US Constitution and Bill of Rights.

    Just because the law says it doesn't mean that they won't lock you up until you win in court. It's not worth a year or ten of your life, just to prove that you were right.

    It's better to not get caught, and the best way to do that is to not do it in the first place. :)

Re:the gun (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31318788)


Re:the gun (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 4 years ago | (#31325802)

    Sometimes freedom must be fought for, it isn't just handed to you on a government owned silver platter.

    I believe Thomas Jefferson had a good bit to say on the topic. It would be disrespectful to only include a few of his quotes, so I will leave it up to the readers to find one of our founding fathers had to say about it.

Re:the gun (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#31271782)

It wasn't until I got to LAX that I worried. There was absolutely no special treatment there. I snagged by bag from baggage claim and left without anyone verifying that it was mine.

LAX by name...

Re:the gun (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 4 years ago | (#31274878)

    They're lax about everything, except if you go to pick up someone from the curb. Stop for 2 seconds at the pickup curb, and they'll make you move, or ticket you.

Re:the gun (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#31278736)

It apples to everything from coding standards to zoning laws: what's easy to enforce gets enforced, and what matters is ignored.

Cheaper to send luggage via FedEx, UPS or USPS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31248078)

Too bad you can't send yourself in a huge padded box.... or can we?

I smell a market opportunity for First-Class Shipping Boxes.

Re:Cheaper to send luggage via FedEx, UPS or USPS? (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 4 years ago | (#31254026)

If trends of shrinking the seats in cattle class continue, that might become the safer, more comfortable (with better personal service as a bonus) option as well as cheaper.

Re:Cheaper to send luggage via FedEx, UPS or USPS? (2, Informative)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#31258530)

I'm still trying to figure the math on "cheaper to ship".

I just checked, and a 30-pound box would cost $38.86 to ship Ground (Brown) from Maine to Texas (just picking two states at random halfway across the country) and would be in transit for 5 days. And I have to drop it off at a UPS store or pay more for pickup.

If I wanted it shipped 3-days, the bag would cost $85.84.

And if I wanted it shipped overnight, it would cost me about half what the airfare itself would cost, over $211 (or $178 next afternoon).

Delta charges $23 if I check the bag in online for the first bag, and it can weigh up to 50 pounds. So I'm paying $15.86 extra, I have to make an extra stop at a UPS store, I have to package and label it in a cardboard box, it gets handled no less gently than the airlines do, there's a greater chance of it being lost, insurance is limited at $100 or I pay extra, and I lose access to my bag for 5 days.

Even if I got my luggage down to 20 pounds, that's still $5 more than checking it, with the same problems. And if I can get my luggage to 20 pounds, I'll put it in a carryon bag and take it with me on the plane (which is how I usually travel - I have a small rolling bag designed to fit in the overhead, and a backpack for my laptop that fits under the seat in front of me, and I can fit enough clothes and gear in that to last a week. With access to a laundry facility, which most hotels have, I have no practical limit on my trip duration with that setup).

Tell me again why I would want to ship my luggage rather than checking it?

Re:Cheaper to send luggage via FedEx, UPS or USPS? (1)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 4 years ago | (#31284988)

agreed, I'm calling BS because the link doesn't work.

Re: the gun (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31248114)

This is a great idea!!! (1)

SpuriousLogic (1183411) | more than 4 years ago | (#31249772)

Not sure why I did not think of this. I already have a starter pistol.

OMG it's 2006!!! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31254258)

Expensive Cameras in Checked Luggage []

Slashdot. Your source for news that is:
a) 4 years old
b) 4th hand (Bruce was 2nd hand, LifeHacker is 3rd hand)

Speaking as somebody who has done this... (3, Informative)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 4 years ago | (#31254552)

Be aware that each airline has its own policies. This [] is the best guide I know of for this subject. You should of course be familiar with the baseline federal standard [] .

Re:Speaking as somebody who has done this... (1)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 4 years ago | (#31260532)

Thanks for the links. I'd mod you up if I had not already posted. I rarely carry on my person, but my brother is fanatic about it and since we're flying together in a few weeks (he never flies) it's nice to have some info on how he should pack his pistol to avoid hassles. I think I'll leave mine at home because as much as the article implies the baggage will be handled with extra care, I don't trust the airlines not to lose or damage anything expensive, including my pistol.

Re:Speaking as somebody who has done this... (1)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 4 years ago | (#31285100)

Thanks for posting this. It's interesting to note that while some consider BB guns and air guns to be shooting equipment, others like American Airlines, says "Pellet and BB guns are not considered firearms, and therefore, do not require any special handling or documentation.", so if someone thought "hey I'll spend $15 at walmart and buy a airgun" you can forget it. Also some airlines won't allows weapons for international flights for whatever reason.

While all this might sound simple and be great for professional photographers or videographers with thousands in equipment and travel frequently it won't help the average Joe flying to Florida for a week who doesn't own a gun and doesn't want to spend hundreds on a weapon and a special lock box.

Eek? (-1, Flamebait)

Nutria (679911) | more than 4 years ago | (#31257404)

What kind of spineless girly boy worm (including Canadians, Brits, ANZers, and most voters-for-Obama, all of whom have passed, or desperately want to pass draconian anti-freedom gun restriction laws) says "eek" when referring to a handgun?

Re:Eek? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31260534)

I'd imagine bringing a firearm onto a plane (even in checked luggage) would be a legal minefield, so I think caution is warranted. It's very easy to violate federal law with these things even with a CHL, and I think to most people this would be more trouble than it's worth. I'm curious about this "spineless girly boy" comment. I've seen women pick up and fire guns with no problem, so I don't see how handguns and masculinity are intertwined. For your information, I did vote for Obama and I am a member of the NRA.

Re:Eek? (1)

ircmaxell (1117387) | more than 4 years ago | (#31265058)

Legal minefield? Actually, by federal law, it's legal to bring a firearm on a plane so long as you follow a few simple rules:
  • You can legally have the firearm at both your origin and your destination
  • It is unloaded
  • The firearm is in a locked hard container and checked in []

Re:Eek? (0, Troll)

Nutria (679911) | more than 4 years ago | (#31265668)

Legal minefield? Actually, by federal law, it's legal to...

It's so much easier, though, to blame the government. Conservatives to it, too, but we are correct in our complaints.

Re:Eek? (1)

Ash Vince (602485) | more than 4 years ago | (#31271958)

The firearm is in a locked hard container and checked in

Hand luggage is out then? :)

Re:Eek? (1)

ircmaxell (1117387) | more than 4 years ago | (#31272054)

I don't know. Why don't you go try it, and let us know how that goes ;-)

Re:Eek? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31301262)

Unless you're in the People's Democratic Republic of New Jersey. Seriously, the only way they can have their insane gun laws is if they seceded from the United States. Have a gun? If anyone sees it and reports it to the police you will be arrested and serve time, no matter how obvious that your rights are legally protected. It's completely fascist.

Re:Eek? (1)

Yamata no Orochi (1626135) | more than 4 years ago | (#31260722)

I think they were referring to stalking around an airport with one. Grow up.

Re:Eek? (1)

Nutria (679911) | more than 4 years ago | (#31261228)

I think they were referring to stalking around an airport with one.

For Christs sake. Be up-front with the fact that you've packed a weapon, follow the regulations, and they won't hassle you.

This reminds me of all the people who for years bleated, "Oh noes, if I say anything critical of W or Dick Cheney, then They will throw me in Gitmo."

Re:Eek? (1)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 4 years ago | (#31283566)

Given that the prisoners in Guantanamo Bay are not allowed to speak to anyone, and their lawyers are gagged, that charges or trials have only been attempted for a few of them, and that at least 3 of them were tortured to death, it seems that _no one will admit_ what those prisoners are being held for. So it might well be for calling Dick Cheney a Republican: the only ones who can really tell are not able or willing to talk.

Re:Eek? (1)

Nutria (679911) | more than 4 years ago | (#31284222)

_no one will admit_ what those prisoners are being held for

That's nowhere near the same as "we don't know who they are". [] []

BTW, tell me if any of these people were shipped to Guantanamo. The answer, unsurprisingly, is no. [] [] [] [] [] []

Airsoft Guns (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31260450)

Airsoft guns made in China usually are plastic replicas of real guns and are not compliant of US airsoft regulations, such as orange colored cannon tip and transparent body, and they are pretty common on marketplaces in Mexico, do you think that would be covered by TSA's security rules?

Explosives on flights (1)

dushkin (965522) | more than 4 years ago | (#31275118)

Not sure about pax regulations, but I'm pretty sure that speaking of freight, explosives are classified as dangerous goods which cannot be flown on board any flight under IATA regulations. I'm not a DG expert and don't have DG training, but I recall those are "ocean-only".

So be aware of that. Better not pack ammo.

Re:Explosives on flights (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31293502)

You're right! You're not an expert. Visit the TSA web site instead of shooting your mouth off about something you have no idea about.

Ammo can be packed in your luggage.

Shipping USPS? (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 4 years ago | (#31276320)

I'd rather take my chances with the TSA rifling through my bags than ship USPS parcel post. Hell, I'd have to ship my stuff a month in advance to make sure it got there, and there's no way to track it if it gets lost. USPS might even be worse than letting American Eagle check your bags to a Caribbean island.

Wait... (1)

bistromath007 (1253428) | more than 4 years ago | (#31293436)

If this actually ensures privacy like the author says, we have a serious ass security hole. You could get anything through an airport by telling them you have a gun.

Re:Wait... (1)

cmarkn (31706) | more than 4 years ago | (#31300630)

It does not insure privacy. Notice that the article says that you have to open the case and show the contents to the agent, and, not in the article, they have to verify that it is unloaded. You can't just say "there's a gun in that bag" and slide it past security.

Why use a gun? (1)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306558)

The TSA also considers the following to be weapons:

Box cutter.
Nail trimmer.
Shaving razor.
Kitchen knives
Dining utensils
Laser pointers

Yes, cameras.

Re:Why use a gun? (1)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 3 years ago | (#31318334)

Those are considered issues only as carry-ons. They are not special when being packed in checked luggage.

Protects valuables how? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31308140)

I'm confused. How does this actually protect your valuables? You do realize the TSA officials have to have a key to that lock?

Re:Protects valuables how? (1)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 3 years ago | (#31318404)

NO! The TSA should NOT be given the key to keep. The TSA's own guidelines [] specify this: "You should remain present during screening to take the key back after the container is cleared."

Do not give advice about subjects you don't know anything about.
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