As I get ready to fly out to Louisville, KY for the Knob Creek machine gun shoot I’m taking extra special care to know exactly where my guns and ammo are — specifically that they’re far away from my carry-on. I do that every time I travel, but as this is the first time I’ll be flying with a firearm in my luggage I want to be confident that I didn’t forget to sweep my duffel bag one last time for any stray 9mm rounds. Apparently this week some travelers were less vigilant than they should have and queued up for the TSA checkpoint at airports across the country with handguns in their carry-on luggage. The TSA Blog has some interesting insight on the matter…

From blog.tsa.gov:

Here is a quick run-down of weapons detected and kept off planes this week:

That’s just firearms they found this week, not including ammunition and other sundry prohibited items. The TSA Blog’s author goes on to give us the #1 explanation for firearm discoveries.

The most popular explanation we get when we find a gun is “I forgot it was in my bag.” Once a firearm is discovered, TSA takes a step back and law enforcement takes over. Depending on local laws, you could be fined or even arrested. As a gun owner myself, I’ve been around guns as long as I can remember and I think it’s crucial to know where your firearm is at all times. So…check those bags before you leave home.

The moral of the story seems to be to always know where your guns are. Douglas Adams had some insight on that I believe, something about being a hoopy frood who really knows where their guns are. Or was it towels? I can never remember…

16 Responses to Guns Discovered by TSA Airport Checkpoints More Common Than You’d Think

  1. I was talking with the soon to be Arlington county Commonwealth Attorney about a case and Reagan National. Same story, the traveler left his weapon in a carry on bag. A good rule of thumb is only carry your handgun in something that you would never use when you travel. If I put my guns in a bag it’s to carry them to the range. I even have a separate backpack for shooting.

    • I’m actually rolling through Regan National on my way to Louisville on Thursday.

      I live in Fairfax, though. Stan Barry is a cool sheriff — turned around my form 4 in less than a week.

  2. I went through TSA once with two loaded 17-round magazines in my bag. The officer pulled me aside and asked, “Is there any reason you have these in your bag?” I responded, “Because I’m an idot?” I had simply forgotten they were in there. No cops, no arrest.

    He kept the cartridges; made me take the empty magazines back out to my car. The TSA mailed a letter to my house with a summary of the event. This confirmed my wife’s long-held suspicions that I was an idiot. I couldn’t argue with her.

    • There are both good and bad things that happened there; First, the TSA agent realized that you weren’t a threat and didn’t blow things out of proportion. Second, if he let you take the magazines out to your car, there’s no reason to have kept the ammunition….

  3. And I’m sure all of these guns could have been detected with old-fashioned metal detectors, before the TSA ever existed. More TSA propaganda.

  4. I’ve been caught at the checkpoint with stray rounds (and especially stray brass) before. I buy in bulk packs so sometimes I miss a couple in my man purse after a range trip. They usually just chuck em and I’ve never had them call the cops, although they were mighty baffled one time by a ziplock full of assorted snap-caps that I had completely overlooked because I hadn’t been to the range recently. I think they thought it was some kind of special secret bright red “cop killer” ammo or something.

  5. And check ’em again. Even though I don’t mix range bags and travel luggage, I have seen shell casings in some odd places. An empty shell casing won’t get you arrested at most US airports, but at the very least the resulting line of questioning could cause you to miss your flight.

    • And check your pockets. On all your garments.

      One of my co-bloggers visited his in-laws in Wyoming, which being a social occasion in Wyoming, involved firearms. My friend had some issues with the .22 Magnum ammo he was using and put the dud rounds into his jacket pocket.

      A jacket that he wore through the TSA line, where the rounds were discovered.

      Oops.

      He made his flight and wasn’t arrested, but there was some awkward moments for him.

      • Good point… I do that too…. About three weeks before I fly anywhere, I post a collage of cartoony images of various items that are forbidden in both carryon and checked baggage. It’s a great reminder for me to make damn sure I scrutinize everything.
        And even if my vacation doesn’t involve anything gun related, when I fly back home I give my pockets and bags an extra review, in case something was missed the first time, or in case a cleaning person decided to stash something unlawful in my stuff.

      • I have several pairs of cargo shorts that are very good at catching empty brass. Empty all of your pockets after every range trip!

      • +1

        Double check everything before going to the airport. Spent brass has an almost magical ability to show up in odd places.

        I was checking all of my jacket pockets before heading to the airport one day and felt a small cylindrical object INSIDE the jacket between the liner and shell, not in the pockets. Turns out to be an empty .40 S&W case. I don’t own any .40 S&W firearms. I figured out how the case got inside my jacket after some thought….

        I was going to the range one day with a friend from work. In my haste to leave the house on time I caught the front of my jacket on a sharp edge of my screen door, creating a small tear. I took a a lane at the range to the immediate right of my friend with his Walther PPS. I found his PPS to have a nasty habit of flinging hot brass right into the chest of the person to the right. One of his empties must have landed in just the right spot to find its way into the small tear in the front of my jacket. Never noticed it until I was double-checking everything before my trip to CA. The funny thing was that the tear in my jacket was barely big enough to squeeze a .40 S&W case through and I had a hell of a time fishing the case back up through the hole in the jacket.

  6. I bet the airport and law-enforcement’s response to finding someone who accidentally packed a gun in their bag will always be needlessly overzealous. Even if the person is legally permitted to own and carry one.

    I don’t see why they need to make a Federal case out of finding one… just let them go home and put it away. Missing the flight is punishment enough.

    -DA

  7. I travel a lot, and have done the idiot thing at TSA. Worst experience was when I had a Kershaw assisted opening knife – with a 3″ blade. The TSA guy thought it was a capital case because it was a SWITCHBLADE! Well, not so much. Anyway, the local cops explained the facts of life to TSA and it worked out.

    But my bad – now I make it a point not to put anything in my ‘work’ bags that might bite me later. And I check very thoroughly before I go through TSA.

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