Can I Carry? Flying Armed

This is an entirely fictional story. None of it is real. This story is mainly for federal law enforcement officers and the occasional police officer who escorts a prisoner on an airplane. That happens from time to time, right?

If you are none of the above, that’s ok. You can read it anyway. I don’t judge. The question I always see on LEO ONLY is, “Can I carry?” And it’s asked almost as often as the LEOs in the group debate whether the New Jersey breakfast meat is called Taylor Ham or Pork Roll. So, which is it … and can I carry?

As an LEO, have you ever flown armed? It’s an interesting experience if you have, right? You try not to attract too much attention to yourself; you don’t want the “civilians” to know you’ve got a gun, so you stay kinda incognito. Well, you try to at least, but the airline employees don’t seem to understand the need to be low key about this.

At check-in, you tell the lady (or guy) at the counter that you’re an LEO flying armed. You slide your badge and credentials to her real smooth like, across the ticket counter. All the while, looking around to make sure nobody sees. She takes your badge wallet, holds it up, and waves it around like a winning lottery ticket. I think they want the whole airport to see that shiny gold badge.


(Richmond Police Department, Virginia)

Wow, at this point you feel like they painted a target on your back. The element of surprise is gone. Would have been nice if nobody knew your position if the proverbially shit hits the fan. That way you have the advantage instead of being perceived as a threat to the bad guys.

All that training you went through to fly armed, ever wonder if they give any training to the personnel who check LEOs in at the airport? Like hey, keep your voice down! Gimme back those creds! Stop making a scene! Shooooooosh.

Then you get to TSA and go through their process. TSA is a federal agency so you would expect some uniformity in how they operate. But no, there’s no uniformity. It’s different in every airport. I won’t give away too many details because this is all a big secret.

Santa Monica


You thank TSA for their help. They ask if your agency is hiring. You go about your business. Time to meet the local police officer who, in between text messages and checking Law Enforcement Today on Facebook, gives you a wink and the secret handshake. Home free, off to the gate to get on the airplane.

Nope! Nice try. Let’s start all over again with the gate agent.

You are finally done. You sink into a gross chair at the gate. These chairs are so full of germs. I don’t think they ever clean them. That’s why I carry wet-ones with me all the time.

You look around, trying to spot other LEOs, which you do because they stick out like a sore thumb. You look at each other, nod, wink … yep he’s an LEO. Wait, he winked again. She’s an LEO too. OK, we are LEOs. You wonder if any of them want to trade challenge coins. Meet the Captain. Oh, he has a gun too, outstanding.

Finally, you take your seat and watch as everybody boards the airplane. No drinking and no napping. Damn … Why didn’t you take a leak before you got on the plane?! Lady sits down next to you and she starts some small talk. She asks where you work. You tell her you’re cook at IHOP and fumble for your headphones.

– The (not so) Anonymous LEO