Superfluous Travel Item I Need Kinda: A GUN?! WTF.

Posted on
Jan 25, 2010
Posted in: S.T.I.N.K.s, WTF

I kind of hate Cory Doctorow. Like that one kid I can’t stand but keep seeing at parties, I can’t remember why I hate him, but I’m sure I have a good reason. For a while, I thought my animosity stemmed from some run-in he had with my hubby during which he wasn’t polite to him, but apparently I fabricated that. Rand’s never actually met Cory Doctorow, though he seems to think, based on what he’s read, that he’s pretty cool.

Then I thought I disliked Doctorow because he named his daughter Poesy Emmeline Fibonacci Nautilus Taylor Doctorow (Note: in the original draft of this post, which exists only in my head, I had composed some fictitious name for his daughter that was something like “Frenchie Spaghetti Tyro Brahe Doctorow,” and changed it after realizing her real name is far, far better). But then, the more I considered it, I realized how unfair that was, because how can you hate a man for the name he gave his daughter? Really, that will be her job when she’s 13. Besides, Emmeline sounds quite lovely.

But I still hate Cory Doctorow … right? I mean, even though he seems kind of interesting and accomplished and volunteered for Greenpeace and is probably a cool guy. I’m sure I have my reasons, whatever they are.

And it was those clearly thought-out and not-at-all forgotten reasons that had me conflicted about blogging about this STINK.  Because, frankly it seems weird to cover something that  Cory Doctorow already wrote about. Oh, and I was also conflicted about the fact that I have to suggest you all go out and buy guns. And travel with them.

Hello? Are you still there?

Because this is insane. And I don’t actually advocate it, but it is pretty damn fascinating. Doctorow’s advice, gleaned from this blog entry, is that if you want to make sure the airline doesn’t lose your checked luggage, you can always pack a gun in your bag. When you notify the airline (during check-in) that you are carry a weapon (legally, of course), they are required to take extra steps to secure your bag, lock it, and track it like hawks. So not only is your bag less likely to be lost altogether, but the odds of someone reaching in and helping themselves to your valuables becomes pretty much nil.

If you’re like me (god help you), you’ve probably managed to injure yourself while opening the mail. Consequently, the idea of not only owning, but packing and traveling with a weapon sounds horrifying. Besides that, wouldn’t acquiring and registering a weapon actually be a ton of work? Apparently not. The TSA considers starter pistols (as in those little pistols that fire blanks and make a loud noise to signal the start of a track meet) to meet their gun criteria – as in, they’ll track your bag if you’ve got one in there. But according to U.S. laws, you don’t actually need to register starter pistols anywhere.

Of course, I’m not saying that you absolutely must travel with a starter pistol – truth be told, the whole idea sounds insane to me, and potentially disastrous. But given the course of the TSA as of late, and how you basically can’t sneeze or even pray on a plane without getting yourself into trouble, it’s kind of comforting to think that there are things you can do to make sure the TSA works for you.

It just involves carrying a gun.

Of course, the closest weve ever come to packing heat was the time Rand has a menorah in his suitcase. Ba-dum-dum!

Of course, the closest we've ever come to packing heat was the time Rand has a menorah in his suitcase. Ba-dum-dum!



Leave a Comment

  • Interesting idea, and while you’d certainly be prepared in the event you were called upon to fill in for some errant race-starting-official, I think I’ll stick with my TSA approved bag lock. Although I have been quite intrigued by the luggage shrink-wrapping stations I’m starting to see in more airports these days…..

  • Geraldine

    Though seriously, how cool would it be for this scenario to play out:

    “Oh, no! We can’t start the race. We don’t have a starter pistol! The Olympics are ruined!”

    “FEAR NOT! I have one!”

    Awesome, and plausible.

  • I’m a professional photographer and I’ve actually considered the starter pistol thing before. They’re harmless regardless, and if you never purchase ammunition for them, then they’re truly 100% harmless. If it helps me not lose my equipment, then hey, seems like a good idea to me. Then again, I’m also a gun owner, and have traveled with up to three rifles at a time before.

  • Geraldine

    Kelsey – if you do end up traveling with a starter pistol, I want to hear all about it. Heck, I kind of want to hear about you traveling with three rifles, too.

  • @Geraldine: Well, I’m a historical reenactor (of pretty much everything from the French and Indian War to the Vietnam War, though I don’t do Civil War), and that means that between my boyfriend and I (a reenactor himself), we have a pretty sizable collection of firearms. We rarely ever attend reenactments that require flying (though we’ve certainly been to many events that required 12-18hrs of driving each way), but sometimes, when moving, we have to take the guns onto planes. I moved my belongings back to Texas after college, and stored them there while I was doing my nomad thing and living in South Korea. When I got back, my boyfriend and I moved in together in Washington DC, but my reenacting guns were all in Texas. I had to go back to Texas anyway to get my other stuff, so when I returned from there to DC I crammed all three rifles (a Mosin Nagant, a K98, and an SVT-40 for anyone who cares) into one case, and checked it at the airport. They take you off to the side, they have you open the case and show them that there is no ammunition, that the gun is not loaded (I actually removed the bolts from mine so they’re physically incapable of firing), etc, and then you lock it back up and they take it away and put it on the plane for you. It’s actually a very easy process, and they give you a lot of personal attention.

  • Geraldine

    Whoa – that’s fascinating! I don’t think a lot of people ever see/hear/experience that sort of thing. The only time I ever saw people checking in rifles was when we were in Edmonton, Canada for a party: there was actually a separate line for hunters traveling with guns, there were so many of them.

  • It’s one of the many amusing side effects of being a reenactor, kind of like the AK-47 in our coat closet and the WWI machine gun (the kind on iron wheels) that is often in the corner of the guest bedroom.

  • Also – anyone who sees you checking in tends to look at you sideways and keep their distance. Firearms really have quite an interesting stigma, even when they’re 50-70 year old rifles.

  • My ex-husband took our family on a hunting trip to Pennsylvania shortly after 9/11. He brought along his rifle. We were all trying to find the gun at baggage claim because it came off separate from our other luggage. Finally, his teen daughter located it. She helpfully shouted, “DAD! I GOT YOUR GUN!!!!” I think 2/3 of the passengers within earshot hit the floor. We miraculously managed to avoid being detained.

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