Pack a gun to protect your valuables?

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Many travelers fear that someone will rifle through their checked luggage and steal their valuable items. When we've bloggedaboutthis topic before, we've received hundreds of worried comments.

In fact, there may be reason for concern. More than 400 TSA officers have been fired for theft since early 2003. Every year, the agency pays out about $1 million in claims for missing possessions or damaged bags.

There may be a creative solution to the problem, though, for domestic flights. Pack a weapon with your valuables. Once you include a firearm, your case is super-duper-locked and receives heightened scrutiny until reaching your destination.

On his blog, security expert Bruce Schneier highlights a comment from one of his readers about this unusual travel hack. (The idea first circulated on the Internet in 2006, but was resurfaced by Lifehacker last week.)

As Schneier pointed out, "most checked-luggage thefts are opportunistic: someone sees something valuable and takes it. A good lock on a luggage case is a pretty effective defense." Because the TSA unlocks bags to inspect them, no bag is safe. But a case with a weapon gets a special lock.

So here's the idea: Buy a starter pistol for around $16. Be sure the firearm is not loaded, of course. Put it in a secure, hard-sided case (from $99) along with your most precious camera, jewelry or other item. Read the TSA instructions on traveling with firearms in checked luggage. Go to the airport for a domestic flight. Declare the weapon at the check-in counter. They'll check it and give it priority care during transport.

Now, here's the truly fun part: The TSA might still find a way to screw things up.

Case in point (if you'll pardon the pun): A couple of weeks ago, radio talk show host Glenn Beck told the story of how he had recently packed a gun, a clip, and bullets for a flight. When he reached his destination out West, the box with his gun didn't arrive. Turns out it was accidentally sent to an airport in Montreal.

Hmm…

What do you think about packing a firearm with your most valuable items in a hard-sided case? Crazy? Or brilliant?

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