We at TFB realize the substantial work that the Transportation Security Administration does to protect the skies above the United States, on a 24/7 basis. However, the frustrations and tribulations of one being passionate about firearms can cause concerns at the airport. We’ve covered flying with actual firearms very thoroughly in a post about a legal expert explaining the issue, and even confiscated firearms. However, something that has arisen to the attention of TFB is the laws governing parts. I went through an experience back in October, but have always been of the opinion that a magazine, a scope, maybe a stock weren’t items that the TSA cared about. Actual ammunition and firearms are of course something that we need to be aware of when transiting through airports, but mere parts?
When I was returning home from the Red Oktober Kalashnikov competition in Utah at the end of October 2016, I had a 30 round Kalashnikov Magpul Pmag in my possession, something that was given out at the shoot to all the participants. While at the McCarren International Airport in Las Vegas, I was stopped at security X-Ray machine and told to see one of the TSA agents. At first I thought my stuff had turned up positive for a Gunshot Residue test, due to the large amount of shooting I had done. I was then shocked to find out that the fuss was about my Pmag. To be honest, I felt like I had been slapped with some secret regulation that had been waiting to get me all along, and I could have been much more respectful and courteous when the agents asked for my ID, address, and phone number. I took this photograph on my phone of the agent writing all my information down. The Pmag is off to the left, next to the orange scissors, still in the plastic wrapper-
Luckily I had a friend outside security, and I was able to exit, give the magazine to him for his checked baggage, and he was able to mail it to me. If he hadn’t had been there, it would have been confiscated. Later on, I thought nothing of the incident, however I received this letter from TSA in the mail yesterday-
My overall conclusion from this whole episode is very confusing. Because on the one hand, TSA has this rule, but on the other, the organization itself barely even follows it, as evident by all my previous travel with bags packed with firearm parts such as magazines, grips, charging handles, etc… So I supposed what it comes down to is that if the TSA agents at your particular airport feel like enforcing the rule or can even recognize what a “Firearm Part” is. And on that note, what is a “Firearm Part”? Is it grip screws? bipod springs? Scope caps? Will I be getting another letter from TSA because I attempt to take a HOG saddle with me on my carry-on?
I polled other writers and others have had similar experiences specifically with parts-
From one of our writers-
Back in 2010 I flew from Laguardia NY airport to Vancouver Canada. I had 1 stop in Toronto and went thru airport security at both Laguardia and Toronto.
When I got to my mother-in-law’s house in Vancouver, I emptied out my carry on. It was a Triple Aught Design backpack. I don’t remember what possessed me to check the hydration bladder compartment but when I did, I discovered a 10rd 9mm Glock 17 magazine inside. The magazine was empty and yet it made it past TSA X-ray in NY and Canada.
I contacted a friend who works for the TSA at BWI in Baltimore. I told him what happened. He said if I had gotten caught there could have been a wide range of fines and possible jail time.
If the TSA determined it was artful concealment, think of the proverbial drugs inside a wooden statue carry on, then it is a felony.
Also considering I left from NY, Port Authority supersedes TSA in terms of control and they would definitely fine me a couple thousand dollars and probably put me in jail.
From another writer-
I had a bullet in the bottom of my back pack in Salt Lake. TSA was cool… they tossed it in a drawer and said it happens all the time. I showed the guy pics from my hunt and that was it.