A record number of guns were confiscated at TSA checkpoints last year.

Despite this, the TSA is actually very accommodating to gun owners who want to fly with their weapon. Yes, you can legally take your gun with you when you fly, but only if you follow the proper procedures.

What are the proper procedures? A TSA representative recently gave a demonstration that detailed the correct way to pack a gun when you fly.

TSA spokesman Mark Howell's presentation at Akron-Canton Airport was documented by the local media (click the link below for video). Howell stressed that the TSA is not inherently against guns and that most of the people who bring firearms to security checkpoints do so unintentionally. He said that these cases of honest mistakes usually don’t lead to charges or fines. He also said that the “TSA doesn't want to infringe on anybody's right to take a firearm with them when they travel. We just want to make sure that it's done in the safest way possible."

There is actually a right way to do it

Howell went on to demonstrate what he means by “the safest way possible.”

The first step is to call to alert the airline of your plans and to make certain that they have a policy that allows them to carry firearms. Not every airline is willing to accommodate this request.

The gun must be packed, completely unloaded, in a hard carrying case and put in the checked baggage. The case has to have a TSA approved lock (which can be opened by a TSA agent). For obvious reasons, guns aren’t allowed in carry-ons.

Passengers then have to declare that they have a firearm in their baggage when checking in. Ticket agents have a special form that needs to be filled out before the baggage tags can be issued. Howell suggests waiting 10 minutes at the ticket counter after the process is complete in case the agents who inspect checked baggage have any questions for the gun owner. This is preferable to proceeding to the security line and then being paged back to the ticket counter.

Gun owners should always carry their permit with them while traveling with their weapon.

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Rifle owners must follow the same kind of procedure as handgun owners, but the longer guns are usually considered oversized baggage.

Avoiding major delays

When guns are not checked and carried through security checkpoints, it can cause major delays. Protocol requires agents to shut down the checkpoint when a gun is discovered. Police must then be called in to handle the situation (and press charges if they deem it appropriate). The gun owner could also be subject to more than $7,000 in fines.

These penalties are possible, but they are usually waived if TSA lawyers think that the gun was brought accidentally or if the person does not have a criminal record.

By following the recommendations laid out by Howell, however, gun owners can take their weapon with them and avoid any unnecessary legal problems, not to mention embarrassment.