Flying With Firearms — Safely and Legally

Dear Black Bag Confidential Reader,

This week’s mailbag features a wide variety of survival questions — from flying with firearms to escaping a flash mob to protecting your kids in a disaster even when they’re far from home.

Remember, I’m here to help you. Send your safety and survival questions to

Now let’s dive in…

I just watched the Security Brief where you talked about gun safety. You demonstrated various safes including the one you use for taking a gun on a plane. How are you permitted to take a gun on a plane?

— Lou G.

When I fly with a firearm, I place it in a gun safe in my checked luggage. You are allowed to transport unloaded firearms in a locked hard-sided container as checked baggage only. You are required to declare the firearm and ammunition to the airline when checking your bag at the ticket counter.

The container must completely secure the firearm to prevent it from being accessed. Often, the standard container your firearm comes with may not meet TSA security standards. You will have to invest in a TSA-approved gun safe if you plan to fly with your firearm.

How do you carry throwing knives?

— Richard L.

I don’t recommend carrying throwing knives for two main reasons:

  1. Depending on where you live, it may be illegal to conceal or even carry throwing knives.
  2. Unless you’ve spent years mastering this skill, throwing knives can be very difficult to use. They’re not something I recommend for someone who is new to knives.

That being said, I do think everyone should carry some sort of knife on them for close-quarters defense and survival purposes. A knife in the hand is a lot deadlier than trying to throw one for 99.9% of people.

I heard TunnelBear VPN has been purchased by McAfee. Do you still recommend using it?

— Stuart C.

At this point, I still use TunnelBear as my VPN and recommend it to others as well. According to TunnelBear, it will be its own division under McAfee and will continue to operate as it has in the past.

The only difference is that the company will now have to comply with U.S. laws (TunnelBear is based in Toronto, Canada). Other than that, it claims there won’t be many changes. However, I will continue to monitor the company for any developments that might affect the VPN service.

How can you stop someone from contacting you?

— Amy R.

First, make it clear to the person that you no longer want them to contact you. If they continue to do so, take steps to block them from contacting you in any way, including by phone, text, email and social media.

If the person has made threats toward you or is harassing you, contact your local law enforcement and ask how to obtain a protective/restraining order.

Finally, you should always carry some sort of self-defense weapon — firearm, stun gun, tactical pen — on you just in case.

What if I am out with my family or wife only to find out that I am in the middle of a violent protest or flash mob or kids start to follow us on the street?

— Steve M.

The reality is protests, flash mobs and riots can happen anywhere, anytime. This is why it has never been more important to utilize good situational awareness. However, if you find yourself in the middle of one of these situations, your first priority should be to get away as fast as possible.

Now, I realize this is easier said than done. If you are stuck in the middle of a large crowd, go with the group. Move slowly in the same direction as everyone else, but carefully make your way to the edge of the group. Never be aggressive toward others — this will draw unwanted attention.

With my kids away at college, far from home without a vehicle (not allowed), when chaos breaks out, how do I get them home safely?

— Patti L.

After a disaster or chaotic event occurs, public transportation will likely be a dangerous and ineffective way to travel. In other words, your kids will be on their own until you can safely come pick them up.

For this reason, I recommend college kids at least have a bike so they can put some distance between themselves and danger — even if it’s just a few miles. Your kids should make a campus escape plan that includes a safe place to hunker down near their college until someone can get to them.

If your kids have absolutely zero means of transportation, make sure that at the very least they have a bug-out bag (72-hour kit) packed with essential emergency supplies so they can survive until help arrives.

Stay safe,

Jason Hanson

Jason Hanson

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