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In their 2023 year-end review, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reported stopping 6,737 firearms (93% of which were loaded) from entering secure airport areas. This figure surpasses the previous record of 6,542 firearms detected in 2022.

The TSA clarifies that it does not confiscate firearms; instead, it’s up to local laws to determine what becomes of the gun and passenger. The outcome for violators can vary, with potential criminal citations or arrests in addition to a civil penalty for taking a gun to the airport. Law enforcement considers several factors when determining the penalty amount, including whether the firearm was loaded and if ammunition was easily accessible. Passengers can face a maximum civil penalty of nearly $15,000 per incident.

“Responsible gun owners know where their guns are, and they know not to bring them to a checkpoint,” says Ohio TSA Federal Security Director Don Barker. “We urge passengers to start with an empty bag so you know with certainty that there is nothing prohibited inside. Bringing a firearm to the checkpoint is a careless, dangerous mistake that passengers can easily avoid.”

Firearms may only be transported on a commercial aircraft if they are unloaded, securely packed in a locked, hard-sided case, declared to the airline and placed in checked baggage. Firearm replicas are strictly prohibited in carry-on luggage and must be transported in checked baggage as well.

Passengers wishing to bring firearms, ammunition or firearm parts on their journey must declare them at the airline ticket counter during check-in. Ammo and firearm parts must also be checked. Travelers must familiarize themselves with gun laws and regulations at their destination to avoid any legal complications. Additionally, it is recommended to consult with the specific airline regarding any additional requirements they may have.

You can find more information about the TSA Year In Review on their website as well as information on traveling with firearms and ammunition and a summary of TSA’s civil penalties for prohibited items.

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  1. I’m curious how many of the people whose firearms have been seized are new’ish gun owners?

    Is there a proveable data relationship between all the new gun owners and the spike in seizures.

    Most old-school POTG realize that attempting to board a commercial aircraft with a firearm is a no-no no matter your intent.

    • “I’m curious how many of the people whose firearms have been seized are new’ish gun owners?”

      I’d say it’s more likely a combo of that and normalization, a daily carrier completely forgets it’s even there.

      Kinda like those who wear wedding rings only notice them when they aren’t there…

      • 2nd example in addition to my earlier comment.
        I was in the TSA line behind a group of middle aged men. Obviously going on a trip together. I live in a huge military area and a favorite retirement town for them too. It was all too apparent these guys were retired leo/military. I’m behind the last guy. TSA starts asking him questions. He has an Oh Crap! moment and shouts to the rest of his crew. “I’ll see you guys later tonight or tomorrow. I forgot my piece in my bag.”

        He had no nefarious intentions but a slip of the mind will cost him dearly.

        Every time it happens around here I wait for the local news to compare our area to non-military areas but I have never seen them interested in those stats. Just that there are evil gun owners everywhere.

    • Not so many when compared to the full year 2022, January through December, U.S. airlines carried 853 million passengers. Of course in the demented minds of Gun Control zealots millions should surrender their rights on the behalf of some careless bad apples…fjb.

  2. It’s important to keep in mind, “shall not be infringed”. A firearm on an airplane in the hands of a responsible gun owner is NOT a danger, as the article implies. Those laws that prohibit possession on an aircraft fall into the same waste bin as all other gun control laws, being unconstitutional.

    That said – it is kinda irresponsible to show up at a TSA checkpoint with a weapon, since everyone knows that the powers that be frown upon it. So, just maybe, someone has a point? Responsible gun owners, vs dummies who can’t remember a few rules? Or, can’t remember that they’re armed? Or . . . ???

    Alright, I pointed fingers at irresponsible dummies. Now, I admit my own moment of thoughtlessness. Years ago, banks had mostly done away with armed guards, but a few remained. Everyone knew not to go into a bank with an open carry weapon, it was suddenly against the rules. I had just completed a contract, and incidentally, a long, hard day’s work. The contractee paid me with a check, and I went straight to the bank to cash the check. Walk in, nod at the guard, say hello to cashier, explain what I need, do paperwork, count my money, wish the cashier a nice day, and turn to leave. THUMP! Surprised, I glance down, and my holstered pistol had hit the face of the cashier’s booth. Oh. Finish turning, and there’s the armed guard, right behind me. He wasn’t excited or anything, but he HAD BEEN watching me.

    Luckily, I was only embarrassed. It’s easy to forget that you’re wearing.

    • “Everyone knew not to go into a bank with an open carry weapon, it was suddenly against the rules.”

      What “rules?” Can you cite a law, or was it a specific policy of the bank you happened to use?

      One of the most often “claimed to be illegal” “rule” in many concealed carry classes is that it is against some federal (or perhaps state) law to carry inside a bank. I don’t know all 50 state laws, but I know it’s not federal.

      • It was probably bank policy, either corporate or local branch. My wife has worked at a couple PNC branches, and for awhile they had signs in the doors of all the branches because of corporate policy. Then for awhile it was a mix, dependent on local jurisdiction or manager. Our local branch was one that had the signs. I talked with them about it one day, and soon thereafter the signs came down and have been gone for several years now.

      • Montana is the only state that has a laws specifically prohibiting handguns, open or concealed, in banks. Of course open carry in a bank in one of the semi-commie states that still prohibits open carry, would also be illegal.

        But much like taking a gun into a TSA checkpoint….open carry into a bank is pretty stupid.

    • The private business called the airlines don’t want guns as carry-on luggage. So don’t put them in your carry-on bags.

    • “It’s easy to forget that you’re wearing”…then, much like the morons who carry guns into TSA check points, you probably aren’t responsible to be carrying it to start with.

      • Exalted BS

        Everyone who has ever driven a car, at least once, has forgotten where they parked it while in a store? “misplace” a 5000lb of steel.

        • This analogy doesn’t work. Did you forget you even drove it there? Did you think that you parked on another side of town?

          I’ve got firearms all over the house, I know exactly where they are. There isn’t one hidden in some bag in some closet. I don’t use my range back for airport travel.

          Not being stupid – it ain’t that hard.

  3. “Bringing a firearm to the checkpoint is a careless, dangerous mistake…”

    How is it dangerous? Is it going to suddenly jump out of the bag and shoot someone?

  4. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Sitting next to an otherwise law-abiding citizen on a plane who just happened to have overlooked their EDC in their carry-on bag is perfectly safe.

    Obviously FAR safer than sitting next to a door plug on a Boeing 737 MAX!!

  5. I happens. My snowbird step-dad was about to drive to FL for the winter when a hurricane hit the east coast. Truck was packed but they found out I-95 was blocked in SC with severe flooding and might not be passable for days. They figured they’d just fly and return for Thanksgiving as planned and drive down then.

    Off to the airport they go with only luggage and necessities. He gets to the front of the TSA line and can’t figure out why they are giving him the third degree. Turns out he has a pistol that lives in his briefcase which was only used to bring important paperwork back and forth to FL twice a year, in which they have always driven.

    It took years and about $15k to get the charge expunged from his record. Not doing so would have caused all kinds of financial implications due to the business he was involved in.

  6. I used to like to travel by air a lot, but between Boeing’s new manufacturing standards (or perhaps lack there of), Pilots dying of multiple clot shots in mid air, and DEI hires by both the airlines, Homeland Security, and FAA I have not been near an airport in over a decade and might never fly again. I am told there are retired pilots and traffic controllers, who refuse to fly. That stated an armed passenger is not even in my top ten list of concerns and a legally armed passenger shouldn’t be a concern. There was a time when entering a bank with a mask was not a good idea until banks required it.

  7. We’re close friends with a couple who were married about 20 years ago, not long after the 9/11 attacks. They flew to Miami and then went out on a cruise, and then he got caught by security at the checkpoint for the return home flight. He had a stray 30-30 cartridge buried in the folds of a side pocket on his duffel bag, left over from last years deer hunt at the family camp in WV. It had gone most of the way unnoticed. He’s still on a watch list because of that.

    But just a few years prior to 9/11, my wife and I helped to host a youth group on a missions trip to the wife’s homeland. One of the boys bought a souvenir bow and arrow set at a gift shop in one of the markets, that was all dressed up with feathers and such, and obviously a souvenir, but was maybe 4 ft long and real enough. He got grief from local security, but they finally allowed it to be tagged and go in the luggage compartment. Remarkably, when we arrived in Houston, it was still intact, and US security had no problems with it on the connecting flight. Security people can be unpredictable.

    • “stray 30-30 cartridge”

      Huh. A few years ago I accidentally left two loaded P-32 magazines in my carryon when going though security — my last trip with that bag was a driving trip, black nylon bag interior, black nylon magazine pouch, tiny magazines == completely missed it.

      They stopped me and allowed me to check the bag instead. The only blowback from it was that my TSA Pre-Check approval was delayed for six months (to teach me a lesson, I guess). But it *was* approved.

  8. Rural (very “red”) precinct for Iowa Caucus. Trump had approx 80%.

    Halley diddly/about the same as Ryan Binkley. Joey Obiden is not going to be pleased.

    -7f but strong turnout/similar to 2016. City slickers may well stay home due to weather.

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