It was around ten p.m. when we checked into our hotel. The return trip home from a two week vacation had us in the car, minus lunch and dinner breaks in restaurants, for about eight hours. After packing the car early in the day while checking out of our beach house rental, the drive had me a little tired. Grabbing our pre packed "hotel bag" out of the car I scanned the hotel parking area, then escorted my wife to our room.
After double locking the door and setting the security latch in place, I went about removing my Glock 19 from its holster as well as the spare 15 round magazine carried in a Bianchi single mag carrier. Together these items were set up on a chair close to the bed along with an LED flashlight and my iPhone.
The night was uneventful and the wife and I enjoyed a quiet night's sleep before continuing the very pleasant drive home the next morning with my 9mm pistol carried discreetly under my Columbia untucked short sleeve shirt.
No Martha, I'm Not Paranoid
Oftentimes when I write about off-duty topics such as this I get responses from the "I don't carry off-duty crowd" or those officers who state "I only carry a five shot snubby when I'm off" or the even worse decision makers, the "I'm on vacation I don't carry at all crowd." Certainly these are your choices to make but keep in mind that we will live and die based on the decisions we make. So too, our family and friends in our presence may live and die by our decisions as well. I chose to carry as much gun as I can comfortably carry concealed with enough spare ammo to handle most armed encounters I'm forced to engage in.
I've had a crack-head attempt to rob me once while in plainclothes and have seen entirely too many incidents, accidents and encounters while traveling or working to leave my awareness, mindset and preparations at work while traveling.
HR218 or more properly the "Law Enforcement Officers' Safety Act" allows law enforcement officers to carry concealed (as long as follow state laws on where they can and can't carry) throughout the U.S. why would you or I not want to take advantage of that?
Tragedy, like violent physical encounters, can strike anywhere at any time. Certainly our street experience has taught us that.
The Tools and Tricks to Safe Travel
Unless you are on official police business such as prisoner extradition, you cannot carry aboard the aircraft. But you can transport your handgun in checked luggage by packing it properly and declaring it at the airline counter. At this time (always good to check the TSA regs on this online which are available on-line), you may transport an "unloaded handgun" in your checked luggage by placing it a locked hard case which has been placed inside your suitcase. The hard case must meet TSA approval and must be locked with "non-TSA" locks. Ammunition must be carried separately in a case (factory boxes with bullet trays will suffice). My gun case is a GunVault Nano Vault with an attached cable. I purchased a gun vault with a combination lock so that I don't have to worry about losing the key. Standard protocol at my local airport (and there is always a lot of difference at airports in my experience) is that you declare the firearm and after receiving your boarding pass, are directed toward TSA employees who will ask for the combination. TSA will open and examine the firearm to ensure it is unloaded and give you a "good to go" acknowledgement.
You then pick up your luggage at baggage claim per normal. This process does require that you safely load and make ready in your rental car or hotel room upon arrival at your destination city.
I have heard of some passengers encountering issues with the TSA at some airports. This has not been my experience but you should budget in a little extra time to complete this process and make your flight.