This came in from an email list I am on:
Sent: Monday, July 11, 2005 8:16 AM
Subject: Denver Airport Checked Firearm Experience
One of my good friends goes prairie-dog hunting every year in the west.
This year they went to Colorado.
He has always used the same procedure when shipping his rifles:
1. Remove the bolts and put into a separate piece of baggage.
2. Declare the firearms, go through red tag procedure, etc.
On his return trip, the bolts ended up in a carryon bag. They were spotted going through the x-ray machine and flagged by the TSA. When asked what the bolts were, he explained that they were a piece of a rifle, but not enough to call it a gun and that he had separated them for safety and security.
TSA immediately called airport police and local Denver police. TSA explained that their definition of a gun is that it has a firing pin and a serial number, and that these bolts had both and were therefore guns.
He was taken to a security holding area.
My friend reports that the TSA folks and airport security were very tough on him, but the Denver police refused to arrest him when he explained his logic for removing the bolts and not thinking that they would be an issue going through screening.
He was given the option of surrendering the bolts for destruction or missing his flight to check them on a later flight.
Not liking either of those options, he suggested that there was a post office in the Denver airport and could he mail them home. The answer was sure!, good idea. He mailed them home and made his flight.
TSA is still threatening to follow up with charges. I’ll post more as I hear it.
I checked out the TSA Permitted and Prohibited Items (PDF file) web page. It says parts of guns and firearms are prohibited as carry on. So even a magazine spring or a basepad are prohibited.
I had my own “interesting experience” with my guns with TSA at the Denver airport once but it turned out better. I thought I had written it up somewhere but I can’t find it right now.