In some airports passengers have to physically walk their luggage over to the TSA baggage check point. This is where the TSA personnel will put the luggage through the big white X-ray machine with the cool video screen and
flop out of their chair when they see a piece of luggage with a bunch of firearms in it. This happened to me once at ATL, and the reason why I have since decided to use a Pelican case for my handguns that doesn't go into another piece of luggage. I declared my firearms at the ticket counter, the ticket agent placed the firearms declaration in the gun case, and the gun case was locked and put into a larger piece of luggage that had my son's car seat. I walked the luggage over to the TSA baggage X-ray and told the TSA person taking my bag that "I have unloaded firearms and ammunition in my bag." The TSA person took my bag and told me to stand on the side, and proceeded to place my luggage on the conveyor belt. At this point, the TSA person left and another guy took over. There was this really big TSA guy watching the video screen. When the firearms came through, the guy nearly flopped out of his chair, uttered a few explatives and came to the front of the X-ray machine and began chewing out the TSA person taking bags. I got involved and told the big TSA guy that another guy took my bags. At this point, the big TSA guy asked "Did you declare your weapons?" I calmly responded "Yes sir, I declared my firearms with the airline ticket agent and the other TSA person when I got here. The orange declaration card is in the gun case." I was surprised
when the guy simply said "Oh, ok, have a nice trip." I asked the big TSA guy if he needed to see the firearms. He said no, and that I could head for the boarding area. I told him that I'm from Hawaii and that the experience here is a lot different, and chatted him up for a bit. The big TSA guy asked if I wanted to see the machine. I said "sure" and he brought me around to check out the video screen. Looking at the screen shot of my bag, he pointed out that my revolver was uloaded as he could see 5 empty chambers. He also complemented me on how my semi-autos were in pieces and even guessed correctly that it was a Glock 23 and Glock 27. After panning down on the screen, he pointed out the rectangular shaped firearms tag. I asked why he flopped out of the chair and went off on the TSA guy in the front. He told me that the TSA guys in the front are supposed to inform him that there's a firearm and/or ammunition coming through. This way he's expecting it and can specifically look for the declaration tag. If none is seen, then the gun case is physically inspected. Folks who don't have a declaration tag in their bag are detained by Airport Police and face legal consequences. The reason he was shocked is that a week earlier, he was on duty where a guy had a couple of Tec-9 full auto handguns in his luggage. The TSA person taking bags didn't inform him that firearms were coming through, so when he saw the guns he was surprised and after physical inspection, realized that the guns were full automatic. The guy transporting the guns didn't have paperwork for the full auto guns, and was taken into custody.
For these reasons, I do my best to make it clear to both the ticket agent AND TSA folks that I have firearm(s) and/or ammunition. Needless to say the last time I traveled through ATL I announced in a louder than usual voice "I need to declare" and in a softer voice "firearms and ammunition". The TSA person watching the video would walk to the front and ask the TSA person taking the baggage "What's he declaring?"