October 10, 2005

Treacherous Stupid Asinine

Clayton Cramer posts that the TSA is being idiotic about its rules concerning flying with ammo. Of course Mr. Cramer doesn't phrase it like that, but I think mine is a more accurate description.

Mr. Cramer says that the FAA rules for flying with ammo states that it must be in a separate container than the firearm & in its original packaging. Of course this makes things dicey for us handloaders doesn't it?

For the helluvit I did a little checking into the CFR. Title 49 CFR part 1540.111 has the rules for transporting firearms on commercial flights. Title 49 part 175.10 (a) (5) has the rules for carrying ammunition.

"5) Small-arms ammunition for personal use carried by a crewmember or passenger in his baggage (excluding carry-on baggage) if securely packed in fiber, wood or metal boxes, or other packagings specifically designed to carry small amounts of ammunition. This paragraph does not apply to persons traveling under the provisions of 49 CFR 1544.219."

That's all I could find. I could have missed something (& if I did please let me know) but it seems like the TSA has misled Mr. Cramer. If that is the only section of the CFR dealing with transporting ammunition on a commercial flight then Mr. Cramer's method of storage was within the prescribed conditions.

A magazine is a metal (though sometimes plastic) box that contains small quantities of ammunition. It carries such ammunition securely & it was specifically designed to carry ammo.

In the absence of finding any language concerning "original containers" in the CFR I'd say that Mr. Cramer was defrauded by the TSA of a quantity of ammunition.

The TSA's website has a further interpretation of the CFR though:

"Any ammunition transported must be securely packed in fiber (such as cardboard), wood or metal boxes or other packaging specifically designed to carry small amounts of ammunition.
Firearm magazines/clips do not satisfy the packaging requirement unless they provide a complete and secure enclosure of the ammunition (e.g., by securely covering the exposed portions of the magazine or by securely placing the magazine in a pouch, holder, holster or lanyard)."

So even by the TSA's standards all that would have been necessary was to have the magazines in some sort of pouch. Actually considering they list "lanyard" all that would have been necessary was tying a length of para-cord around the tops of the mags.

In short Mr. Cramer was duped into giving permission for the TSA to take his ammo.

I'll also note that carrying ammo in the same case as a firearm is not proscribed by the CFR & in fact the TSA gives its blessing as long as the ammo is otherwise in conformity with its rules on ammo.

"The ammunition may also be located in the same hard-sided case as the firearm, as long as it is properly packed as described above."

Ironically Paul Revere couldn't have flown if the TSA was operating back then (well, & if we'd have had planes back then):

"Black powder and percussion caps used with black-powder type firearms are not permitted in carry-on or checked baggage."

I've digressed. The point is that Mr. Cramer, who travels somewhat regularly with firearms, was misled by the TSA. It's not that unusual; I know a few folks who do fly frequently with firearms & they've told me of differing procedures at different airports for the same arms & ammo. Hell, a few have even said the rules at a specific airport can change depending upon who is working that day.

The bad part is the TSA doesn't have a reputation of being receptive to correction. So if you insist on flying it's helpful to know what the law actually says as well as how different agencies interpret that law, but don't be surprised if the local TSA jerk has a completely different take on things.

(& yes; I regard most TSA employees as well as most ATFU & IRSS employees as jerks. The very nature of their jobs requires them to do things that are either unconstitutional, immoral or often times both.)

Posted by Publicola at October 10, 2005 01:22 AM | TrackBack

The TSA's page on flying with guns is here:


Posted by: SayUncle at October 10, 2005 06:30 AM

I put my handloads in the plastic ammo cases and had no problems. Also I have used metal ammo cans with hundreds of "loose" rounds in it without problems. They sometimes inspect the ammo boxes but I haven't had a problem when they did that.

The requirement for ammo being in a separate bag from the gun varies by airline. Airlines are free to make up their own rules including not allowing you to carry a firearm at all.

Posted by: Joe Huffman at October 11, 2005 06:46 AM

I flew this past weekend. In the process I tried to return home with a single .50BMG round a friend had given me. It was a gift as it was head stamped Lake City 1943; the year my dad went into the Marines. Of course it was not in its original packaging. I had it imbedded in a coat. I appropriately declared it.

I did try to explain the nature of the original packaging - the metal ammo box. They said that would have been fine. But putting it in bubble wrap would not be acceptable. The TSA guy appologized and said it was an airline call. It was confiscated. I expect to see a picture of the same round as an example of what people try to smuggle on the airlines soon.

If anyone has the inclination, try to fly American with a full ammo can of .50BMG, I was told it would be fine. Right.

Posted by: GLN Admin at October 11, 2005 10:20 AM

Should have just wound a lanyard around that .50 cal.

TSA is what Bush gave us instead of sealing the border. Better to go through grannys underwear, put babes-in-arms on the No-fly list, and build a HUGE bureacracy instead of actually keeping 500,000 folks a year from walking over the border.

Posted by: Robert at October 11, 2005 07:39 PM
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