Of all the signs I’ve seen in the many airports worldwide, the bright yellow “Firearms Check-In” was the most unexpected. And yet, there it was, shining bright at Johannesburg International Airport.
Why Firearms Check-in?
Now I understand why gun-toting citizenry should check their weapons. We don’t need arguments over seat assignments escalating into inter-cabin shootouts, but it surprises me that there’s a need for firearm check-in to begin with.
Just how many South Africans are packing heat when they travel that there needs to be a special check-in procedure for them? Are sidearms that common? Should I worry about concealed weapons as I walk the streets of Joburg? Or is the South African version of the National Rife Association that powerful?
Firearm Check-in Process
Following the signs, I found the firearm check-in desk and asked them the procedure to check your pistol or rifle for a flight. First, they check to make sure the weapon is not loaded. They even have a pistol bullet trap just for that purpose.
Then the airport staff takes the rifle or handgun in its case (or put it in a thick plastic bag if there isn’t a case) and walks it to the plane, securing it in a locked compartment. Only the airport ground staff has keys to the locker, with a staff person meeting the plane at arrival, so passenger and pistol make it to their destination together.
There is a safer alternative
Rather than having a firearm check-in, why fly with your gun to begin with? Better yet, why own a gun? I just don’t understand the need for firearms in any setting and especially when traveling. If you must, why not send the gun by FedEx, DHL, or G4. We’d all be a bit safer if you did.