Transportation Security Administration officers at McCarran International Airport haven’t forgotten the lengthy security check delays that occurred in 2012 when an exhibitor at the annual SHOT Show innocently handed out hundreds of keychain souvenirs that weren’t allowed to fly.
“Unfortunately, some giveaways aren’t always checkpoint friendly,” said Lorie Dankers, a spokeswoman for the TSA.
Dankers was referring to a keychain attached to a bullet encased in acrylic. The keychain was fine. The acrylic was fine. The bullet wasn’t.
Hundreds of keychains had to be surrendered before passengers who had them could be cleared to fly. And McCarran officials said it wasn’t the first time a trinket handed out at the Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show resulted in checkpoint delays.
Las Vegas is hosting the SHOT Show at the Sands Exposition Center through Friday, and an estimated 64,000 people are attending.
A high percentage of attendees is likely to arrive at or leave from McCarran, and many enthusiasts will bring or take home firearms, gun parts or ammunition. That means stepped-up efforts to inform enthusiasts about what they can and can’t bring onto airplanes.
McCarran and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority issued a summary sheet of TSA rules — listing what can and can’t be taken in carry-on bags and checked luggage — to show representatives to pass along to attendees.
A basic rule of thumb: You can’t take a gun or anything that looks like one in a carry-on. That includes firearms, flare guns, pellet guns, BB guns, compressed air guns, starter pistols, gun parts, realistic replicas of firearms, ammunition, paintball markers, plastic explosives, hand grenades or realistic replicas of explosives.
And just for the record, you also can’t take martial arts and self-defense weapons — including billy clubs, black jacks, brass knuckles, kubatons, night sticks, nunchucks, throwing stars, stun guns, mace or pepper spray — in your carry-on.
But all of those things can be placed in checked luggage as long as they’re declared to the airline first. Firearms carried as checked luggage have to be unloaded and packed in locked, hard-sided containers.
There’s also a short list of things you can’t take in carry-ons or checked bags: flares, gun lighters or gunpowder, including black powder and percussion caps.
Dankers said there’s a comprehensive list of items that can and can’t be taken on planes and a feature on the TSA site, its mobile site and a TSA app called “When I fly, can I take my … ?” in which the name of an object can be typed into a box and a yes-or-no response is returned with a rule citing why.
“It’s a recurring problem when there are shows like this, but it’s been a good cooperative effort to help people understand the rules,” Dankers said. “We’re not painting anybody in a bad light.”
Dankers also suggested emptying a suitcase before packing for a trip.
“Sometimes you just forget about small things that aren’t supposed to fly, like pocket knives, that have been left in a zippered bag and forgotten about,” she said.