Airlines routinely let passengers travel with unloaded guns in their checked baggage and leave it up to customers to know and obey gun laws when they land.
The TSA has a basic set of rules, and individual airlines add to them.
Delta — the airline used by the shooter who pulled a firearm from his checked baggage and killed five people after landing at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on Friday says on its website that all firearms must be declared at “the main ticketing counter” before taking one of its flights.
The firearm must be unloaded, per TSA regulations, and the owner must sign a “Firearms Unloaded” declaration, the airline says.
The weapon must travel in a locked hard-sided piece of luggage.
If it’s a handgun, it can go in a locked hard-sided gun case inside an unlocked soft-sided piece of luggage with a “conditional acceptance tag” attached.
The airline allows up to five handguns in a single hard-sided case.
Some travelers at Kennedy Airport were stunned to learn the Florida gunman legally checked in the firearm authorities say he used to kill five people.
“That’s terrifying,” said Rachann McKnight, 31, who was flying home to Austin, Tex., on a Delta flight. “I’m not comfortable with that at all.”
Some experts said the airlines are more concerned with cash than safety.
“The airlines are into business and getting you on their plane to fly,” said Dennis Coppin, a New York lawyer who has represented gun owners arrested at airports. “They’re not getting lawyers to look into your status and where you’re going. If you carry a weapon, you’re responsible to know the laws.”
Others said there could be more oversight.
“It does seem like this is maybe an area where there are some gaps,” said Hannah Shearer, an attorney with the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
Delta allows small-arms ammunition in quantities 11 pounds and under per person to be checked.
Ammo must be packed in the manufacturer’s original package or securely tucked away in fiber, wood, plastic or metal boxes and provide separation for cartridges.