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The Transportation Security Agency discovered 101 pistols in carry-on luggage at TSA-covered airports in the US during the week of May 14-20. In that group, 9mm pistols were the clear favorite, making up 43 of the 94 pistols found. Another 23 were in .380 caliber.

There were seven .45 caliber guns, six .38 revolvers, six .40 caliber pistols, three .357 magnums, two .22 LR, two .32 caliber Kel-Tecs (one with a Crimson Trace laser), one .22 magnum North American Arms mini revolver, and even a GLOCK 20 10mm.

My vote for the most unusual goes to the unloaded Colt Woodsman discovered at O’Hare. Ernest Hemingway favored the Colt as a carry gun for the big city, because of its accuracy and ease of use. Apparently someone in Chicago was a fan, too.

The quality of the pistols found suggest most were taken from people who can legally carry them in most places. There are over 16 million people with carry permits in the United States, and there are 13 states where no permit is required to carry a gun.

The number of guns found at TSA checkpoints may be increasing. Last year about 4,000 pistols were found in carry-on luggage. That may seem like a lot, until you realize that it represents only one pistol found for every 194,000 passengers passing through the TSA checkpoints.

When you reach those numbers, you start getting into the rare-but-bound-to-happen, category.

Everyone makes mistakes and no one is perfect. I once found a full box of .22 ammunition inside a computer bag I took to a conference. The ammo didn’t come back home with me.

While many find the idea of misplacing a pistol unbelievable, try doing something every day for 530 years, and never making a mistake. That’s the error ratio that one in 194,000 represents. What we don’t know is how many pistols go through without being detected.

Most of these errors are investigated and recognized for what they are: honest mistakes. Sometimes fines are imposed, sometimes not. Much depends on where the discovery occurs. In New York, there will be considerable trouble. In Alaska more sanity is likely to be employed.

©2018 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

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  1. Every body in America is armed if that many folks are forgetting to disarm before getting on an airplane.

    No wonder the blue wave is just a dribble.

      • Constitutional carry nationwide. It’s coming with more Trump conservative federal justices.

        • I would prefer some training. Just a 4 hour class with getting 5 rounds into the archery target. I say this as I’ve taught a few people and seen far more where the bullets don’t go into their paper! Heck on father’s day, one dofus put 3 rounds into my new at ten yards paper.
          But cap fees at 4 hours of local minimum wage plus ammo. And… Since this is a right, cap ammo taxes/fees.
          Right to bear (carry).

        • Neil, do get as much training as you feel is proper for you.
          I will do the same.
          Now for my rights, I will take them with no strings attached. After lifetime of shooting, last thing I need is four hours of training in basic pistol manipulation.

    • Porcelain? Probably not. It is dense and should show up well on x-rays.
      Not going to have a porcelain spring either…probably not barrel either.
      Still…people that carry need to be more careful when flying.
      Wonder if any of these were set-ups by wives/husbands/etc?

  2. What does the TSA do with them? if auctioned off even at $100 net too tsa each thats $40,000 that should pay for extra doughnuts…. theres an idea to make the security theatre a bit more bearable provide free snacks for us when they return our shoes ;–)

  3. “Everyone makes mistakes and no one is perfect. I once found a full box of .22 ammunition inside a computer bag I took to a conference. The ammo didn’t come back home with me.”

    I’d mail it back to myself…

  4. Hmm, let’s see.

    I think I see at least 3 Ruger LCP’s (4th gun, 1st row, two on the bottom row including the pink gun at the very bottom right), and a Bersa Thunder next to the first LCP. The 1911 looks like it might be a Ruger(?).

    Anyone know what the first gun on the 2nd row is? I can’t quite place it.

  5. The Transportation Security Agency discovered 101 pistols in carry-on luggage at TSA-covered airports in the US during the week of May 14-20.

    If the Inspector General’s findings are any guide, that translates to about 1,919 guns that slipped past the checkpoint undiscovered.

    • I thought a TSA audit indicated that TSA missed something like 95% or more of knives and firearms in carry-on bags. If that is true, then passengers likely carried 20,000 handguns aboard planes during that week of May, 2018 and TSA screeners simply discovered 1,000 of them.

      Perhaps that 95% failure rate is mostly knives which could be easy to miss (especially if the blade edge was facing the X-Ray scanner which would produce nothing more than a narrow line on the video screen)? And perhaps TSA screeners rarely miss firearms since they would be pretty obvious on X-Ray scanners?

      I have heard anecdotes of people who arrived at their destination and discovered their handgun in their carry-on bag — which means the TSA screeners missed it. Such anecdotes seem to be exceedingly rare which suggests that TSA screeners rarely miss handguns in carry-on bags???

  6. Well that would definitely piss me off! And one has to wonder what REALLY happens to them after they are confiscated?

      • I goofed once a long time ago and had a Swiss army knife confiscated by TSA, but later flew somewhere else and discovered my folded Leatherman in my carryon on arrival at my destination. Both honest but dumb mistakes on my part. One time punished, one time gotten away with.

  7. I was in a panicked hurry to get to the airport where I live in Alaska and fly 400 miles to where my 85 year old father had been hospitalized. His Dr that I talked to said he was on life support and that I needed to make a conference with him and the other Drs that afternoon. I forgot about my Ruger LCP in my lower cargo pants pocket and kept setting off the metal detector after removing all thing small and metallic, my belt, pen, a single key… etc. I patted myself down and self disclosed to the TSA kid what I had done. This must have been the finest moment in his short, wannabe cop life. As per protocol the local police were called and while waiting for them I told the kid the story about my dad and that i was a bit anxious and panicky about my father. His response? “You should have thought about that before you decided to bring a gun to “My” airport.
    I was very close to missing the jet, the local police arrived, the chief and two sergeants vouched for me and TSA prick had his workers go through my carry on again. The lady going through my bag whispered “I’m sorry”. One of the officers talked to the airlines who talked to the pilot and he decided to wait for me and I made my flight. I chose to have an informal phone session with the head TSA guy in Seattle. He gave me the lowest fine allowed by law and allowed me to retake possession of my gun when I got back home. Dad turned out ok. The TSA jerkfuck in my hometown was fired a few weeks later for reasons unknown by the other workers.

    • And what is so hard about taking a few minutes to check your bag and clothing? Do people really time their events down to the nanosecond so there is no time to stop and think?

      • Ever had a family emergency? They tend to happen at the shittiest possible times.

        For instance my Mom called me two days before Christmas about my Dad being hospitalized. So this past Xmas eve I left my parents-in-law’s house at about 5AM (on a few hours notice), flew to Denver, stopped by my house, are packed and then drove to Santa Fe NM. The only reason I didn’t fly from DIA to ABQ was because it wasnt really possible on such short notice.

        Now, I’m not saying everyone is having crazy shit like that happen but it’s pretty easy to make packing mistakes under such circumstances. I certainly fucked up a bunch and had to buy stuff like extra socks (because I left a pile of clean, paired socks sitting on the bed instead of packing them) once I was in Santa Fe.

        • Had an emergency, calmed the daughters with an art project. Showed up at the airport and had their nicest pair of scissors confiscated. 🙁

          But my guns? I always know where they are. Same with ammo.

    • There’s likely 10 9mm carriers to every other caliber out there. Makes sense that more of them would get caught. There’s just more of them.

      • It was a jab at the 9 mill owners, nothing more. It’s getting difficult to find many people who do not own something( better/ .45 acp) else.

  8. Our range owner was in NJ Liberty airport on the way home, TSA found a single spent .223 round inside his carry on, they detained him and his daughter, ended up giving him a summons to appear, he had his retired army credentials, etc etc, cost him $400 for a lawyer in NJ to get it tossed.

    Spent case, single spent primer, shotgun hull, cup, single bullet, etc will get you arrested in NJ/NY airports, inside the city and also in MD and DC unless you have a FOID card.

  9. While I don’t doubt that there are a lot of oblivious idiots around the country who somehow manage to forget that they have a gun in their bag despite all the signs and the continuous din of reminder announcements over the loudspeakers at every airport, I do have to wonder how many more dangerous pistols found that week were part of kids’ GI Joe dolls or found loaded with that dangerous H2O stuff. Since its inception, TSA has been a laughingstock


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