Traveling with a Suppressor
Traveling with a Suppressor
A record number of Americans are traveling throughout the US and you may be going out-of-state for a hunting trip, a shooting match, or just taking your firearm with you when you’re visiting friends/family. There are a few key facts (and great supporting details) that you should know when transporting suppressors across state lines.
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Can I travel with a Suppressor?
Yes, you can easily travel with a suppressor: when you take your suppressor out of your home state; you (the owner of the suppressor) are not required to complete any special/additional paperwork. You may be wondering, do I have to carry my tax stamp with my suppressor? You should always keep a copy of your ATF paperwork in your gun bag or a digital copy on your mobile device. You may also want to keep your tax stamp near your NFA item: whether the suppressor is in a gun safe in your home, with you at the local gun range or traveling out of state for a hunt, keeping your stamp and item together may be a good idea. Transporting a suppressor is simple: your silencer needs to be securely locked up and out of reach when you travel with it. If you’re in a vehicle, you can store it in a locked case under your backseat, a toolbox, or your trunk. In general, you should treat your silencer like any other type of firearm when you’re traveling out-of-state, especially if you’re going through areas that don’t have gun-friendly laws. Bearing in mind responsible gun ownership and common guidelines for transporting a firearm, you can bring your suppressor into any state in which silencers are legal.
What States are Silencers Legal?
There are currently 42 states where suppressors are legal. In these 42 states, you can reside and use your suppressor. There are only a few areas of the US (8 states and Washington D.C) where suppressors are illegal.
Transporting NFA Items Across State Lines
Your silencer is an NFA (National Firearms Act) item and no paperwork or forms are required when transporting suppressors across state lines. For other NFA items, “the registered owner of a destructive device, machine gun, short-barreled shotgun, or short-barreled rifle needs authorization to lawfully transport such items interstate” per the ATF. If you are taking any of these items outside of your home state an ATF Form 5320.20 must be approved prior to travel.
Flying with a Suppressor
Can You Take a Suppressor on a Plane?
Yes, flying with a suppressor is likely to be legal, just know a few simple points. At the airline’s check-in desk, declare the suppressor and check the case with the desk attendant. The firearms case (note: a hard-sided container with TSA-approved locks is required to check firearms) that contains the suppressor will be grouped with the checked bags and stowed in a section of the plane with luggage and cargo. The suppressor cannot be brought into the cabin in a carry-on bag.
You may have experienced flight delays or cancellations that cause you to be stranded in a state whereby suppressors are illegal. In that situation, if you remove your gun case from the airport, you may not be able to check it in when you return for your next flight. It’s recommended that you ask the airline to hold your bag, subsequently, they’ll move it onto the next flight.
Can I mail a suppressor to myself?
Yes, you can send yourself a suppressor, as long as it is going to one of the 42 states where gun suppressors are legal. You cannot ship your suppressor to a state in which suppressors are illegal, nor can they be taken out of the United States.
According to the ATF, “Any person may ship a firearm to himself or herself in the care of another person in the State where he or she intends to hunt or engage in any other lawful activity. The package should be addressed to the owner “in the care of” the out-of-State resident. Upon reaching its destination, persons other than the owner must not open the package or take possession of the firearm”
If you ship a suppressor to yourself, it’s suggested that you coordinate with a private service like UPS or FedEx. Note, you cannot ship NFA items through the US postal service.
Traveling with a suppressor is easy when you are mindful of a few basic premises. You can transport the suppressor to any state where suppressors are legal, and can transport it through a state where suppressors aren’t legal. When flying with a suppressor, secure it in a locked gun case and declare it with the airline’s checked bag agent. Bringing a copy of your tax stamp and registration papers in any scenario is helpful. With these easy tips you could be on your way to shooting suppressed throughout the country. Note, this writeup should be considered a customer service communication and it’s recommended that legal guidance be obtained as needed.
First and foremost, the TSA should not have access to your case. Typically when you get to the counter to check the case, you declare your firearms, sign a slip that goes in the case, then lock it back up. The attendant at the desk calls the back ahead of time to let them know firearms are coming through. The TSA agents checking baggage should have zero reason to open your case. In the event they do, they legally cannot open it without you being present. However if you use "TSA approved locks" they can try to go behind your back and possibly tamper with your firearms without you ever knowing. If they need the case opened, you, and only you should have the keys to access it, where you can then open it for them.
Second, TSA locks are such a common gimmick that not only can TSA agents access your case, so can literally anyone else with those keys. It's not like they're unique.
Do yourselves a favor; invest in good quality, hard to cut and hard to tamper locks that only you have the keys to. It'll keep your firearms when flying that much safer.