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Interpretation Response #14-0150 ([U.S. Department of Justice] [Mr. Ronald B. Turk])

Below is the interpretation response detail and a list of regulations sections applicable to this response.

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date:

Company Name: U.S. Department of Justice

Individual Name: Mr. Ronald B. Turk

Location State: DC Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

October 1, 2014

Ronald B. Turk
Assistant Director
Office of Field Operations
U.S. Department of Justice
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
99 New York Ave., NE
Washington, DC 20226

Ref. No. 14-0150

Dear Mr. Turk:

This responds to your request for clarification of the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171-180).  Specifically, you ask if Taser Brand conducted electrical weapons (CEW) and CEW cartridges are authorized by the HMR to be carried aboard a passenger-carrying aircraft by armed law enforcement officers (LEO) under the authority provided in 49 CFR 1544.219.  You are concerned because Part 8, § 1.1.1 of the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air (ICAO Technical Instructions) was recently revised to prohibit electro-shock weapons carried by passengers and crew members, U.S. airlines are now refusing to allow armed LEOs the ability to carry such weapons aboard passenger-carrying aircraft.

Provided the conditions of 49 CFR 1544.219 are met, an armed LEO is authorized under
§ 173.54(f) of the HMR to carry a loaded firearm aboard a passenger-carrying aircraft.  Under
§ 175.1, such authorization applies to any aircraft of U.S. registry anywhere in air commerce.  However, unlike a loaded firearm, an electro-shock weapon may contain explosive charges, compressed gases, and lithium batteries.  No exceptions for the carriage of electro-shock weapons by LEOs are provided under the HMR.      

Unlike Part 8 of the ICAO Technical Instructions, § 175.10 of the HMR only specifies what hazardous materials are permitted to be transported by a passenger or crew member.  In other words, unless an exception is explicitly provided by the HMR (e.g., an armed LEO traveling under 49 CFR 1544.219), all hazardous materials are prohibited in passenger or crew member baggage or when carried on one’s person.  

Thank you for bringing this to our attention.  We recognize the importance of the duties performed by LEOs and we intend to address the issue in a future rulemaking action.  Please contact us if we can be of further assistance.


T. Glenn Foster
Chief, Regulatory Review and Reinvention
Standards and Rulemaking Division

173.54(f), 175.1, 175.10

Regulation Sections

Section Subject
173.54 Forbidden explosives
175.1 Purpose, scope and applicability
175.10 Exceptions for passengers, crewmembers, and air operators