We have all lived with this fear at one time or another.  The fear of being forced to check your camera bag. The thought of $20,000-30,000 worth of gear riding on conveyor belts in the deepest darkest parts of the airport gives me the chills. Given the current situation with checked bags and the internal airline gear theft horror stories we hear from time to time some people would call if you a fool for even flying with your cameras. In fact, Scott Bourne even recommends shipping your gear in his article “Traveling? Better get a UPS account.

But security expert Bruce Schneier says that perhaps you needn’t worry if you’re packing “Heat” and your cameras together.  At least one professional photographer suggest that you always fly with a “Weapon” as well as your photo gear.

A “weapons” is defined as a rifle, shotgun, pistol, airgun, and STARTER PISTOL. Yes, starter pistols – those little guns that fire blanks at track and swim meets – are considered weapons…and do NOT have to be registered in any state in the United States.I have a starter pistol for all my cases. All I have to do upon check-in is tell the airline ticket agent that I have a weapon to declare…I’m given a little card to sign, the card is put in the case, the case is given to a TSA official who takes my key and locks the case, and gives my key back to me.

That’s the procedure. The case is extra-tracked…TSA does not want to lose a weapons case. This reduces the chance of the case being lost to virtually zero.

It’s a great way to travel with camera gear…I’ve been doing this since Dec 2001 and have had no problems whatsoever.

Personally, given that you can even use a harmless starter pistol I think this might just be the perfect way to “Game” the system.  What do you think? Would you pack a pistol to protect your gear from the airlines?

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