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TSA Week in Review: 39 Firearms Discovered in Carry-on Baggage This Week

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Friday, October 12, 2012
Loaded guns.

39 Firearms Discovered - A total of 39 firearms were discoveredthis week in carry-on bags. Take a look at the photos and spreadsheet at the bottom of this post.

Opposite Day? - It’s almost as if two separate passengers at New York Kennedy (JFK) and Tampa (TPA) read the prohibited items list backwards. The passengers had the following items in their carry-on bags:

  • JFK - A variety of firecrackers, brass knuckles, a large knife, and while we were in the bag, we saw his baggie of marijuana. We’re not looking for drugs, but when we find them, we notify law enforcement.
  • TPA - A knife, a fully loaded magazine, a kubaton with a spike attachment, and a stun gun designed to appear as a smartphone.
Knives, Fireworks, Brass Knuckles, Ammunition, Stun Gun

Inert Grenades Etc. - We continue to find inerthand grenades and other weaponry on weekly basis. Please keep in mind that if an itemlooks like a bomb, grenade, mine, etc., it is prohibited - real or not. When these items are found at a checkpoint, they can cause significant delays. I know they are cool novelty items, but it is best not to take them on a plane. Read here and here on why inert items cause problems.

  • Two inert training mortar fuses were detected in the carry-on bag of a passenger at Richmond ( RIC), Virginia.
  • A replica grenade was detected in a carry-on bag at Tampa (TPA), Florida.
Grenade and warheads.

Items in the Strangest Places - It’s important to check your bags prior to traveling. If a prohibited item is discovered in your bag, you could be cited and possibly arrested by locallaw enforcement. Here are a few examples from this week where prohibited items were found in strange places.

  • A walking cane with a knife inside was detected at LaGuardia (LGA).

What Not to Say at an Airport - Statements like these not only delay the people who said them but can also inconvenience manyother passengers if the checkpoint or terminal has to be evacuated:

  • During screening at Rochester (ROC), a passenger told our officers that he had a firearm in his carry-on bag. No gun was discovered. Bad joke.
Stun guns.

Stun Guns - Nine stun guns were discovered in carry-on bags at checkpoints around the nation. Two of which at Tampa (TPA) and Newark (EWR) were disguised to appear as smart phones. Others were discovered at LaGuardia (LGA), Washington Dulles (IAD) , Oklahoma City (OKC), 2 at Denver (DEN), Atlanta (ATL), and Jacksonville (JAX).

Knives and fireworks.

Miscellaneous Prohibited Items - In addition to all of the other prohibited items we find weekly, our Officers also regularly find firearm components, realistic replica firearms, bb and pellet guns, Airsoft guns, brass knuckles, ammunition, batons, and a lot of sharp pointy things--to mention a few...

Firearms - Here are pictures of some of the firearms our Officers found in carry-on baggage since I posted last Friday. See a complete list below.

Loaded guns.
Loaded guns.
Loaded guns.
39 guns discovered at TSA checkpoints last week.

You can travel with your firearms in checked baggage, but they must first be declared to the airline. You can go here for more details on how to properly travel with your firearms. Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality. Travelers should familiarize themselves with state and local firearm laws for each point of travel prior to departure.

Unfortunately these sorts of occurrences are all too frequent which is why we talk about these finds. Sure, it’s great to share the things that our officers are finding, but at the same time, each time we find a dangerous item, the throughput is slowed down and a passenger that likely had no ill intent ends up with a citation or in some cases is even arrested. This is a friendly reminder to please leave these items at home. Just because we find a prohibited item on an individual does not mean they had bad intentions, that's for the law enforcement officer to decide. In many cases, people simply forgot they had these items.

Bob Burns
TSA Blog Team

If you have a travel related issue or question that needs an immediate answer, you can contact us by clicking here.


Submitted by Anonymous on

What do people, caught with this illegal firearms, say when their caught?

Submitted by Chip And Andy on

OMG! 39 Firearms this week! That is more than last week...... we're all gonna die!

Submitted by Anonymous on

I'm waiting for your Official TSA Response to the reported mistreatment of a dying woman at Sea-Tac. Screeners reportedly checked under her bandages, opened a bag of sterile saline, and refused to give her a private screening.

I'm waiting for you to tell us about the thorough investigation that found the officers acted properly, as they somehow always do. I'm waiting for you to reiterate yet again the standards to which the highly professional TSOs are held, leading to the inescapable conclusion that, as always, the incident was nothing but a passenger's slanderous fabrication.

And, as always, I see nothing here to indicate that TSA "enhanced" security is any better than what we had before 9/11. Except for the marijuana (which you even feel compelled to admit that you're not looking for), there's nothing here that could not have been found with the x-rays and metal detectors in place before the TSA existed.

Submitted by Anonymous on

TSA has to act on the what if effect. What if this passenger was able to get this gun on board and what if this person had a bad day and what if it was YOUR bad misfortune to be the one in front of this person. So it was only 32 guns that were seized. That was 32x of what if. And this is only using guns as an example.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I think everybody agrees that guns should not be on planes. However, why is it such a big deal that the TSA found them? If they can't find a gun, which is the thing that security has been primarily trying to do for decades, how many other things are being missed? Of course the TSA missed two guns a week or two ago. That seems like too many to miss.

How amny of these people were charged with terrorism because of the guns? I'm betting zero since they were likely forgotten in their bags. Not every one is a terrorist, but the TSA seems to treat every passenger as guilty before innocent.

Submitted by Chip And Andy on

"...TSA has to act on the what if effect."

What if 100 out of 100 people trying to fly today are not terrorists?

What if 100 out of 100 TSA Employees are in violation of several articles of the US Constitution and Bill of Rights?

What if 99 out of 100 people decided enough is enough and decided to quit flying?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Well Bob it's been over a week since I first started reading about Michelle Dunaj's experience with your professional, wonderful, thoughtful, courteous TSOs during her screening at Seattle and we still haven't heard a word from you. Your rep in Seattle, Ann Davis, said TSA was investigating and that was 4 days ago. I'm just wondering how long it is going to take TSA to "investigate"? How long does it take to review the videos and gen up a statement that says Ms Dunaj lied and your Seattle TSOs acted properly, followed all procedures and treated this lady with respect and compassion? Your silence is deafening and would lead me to think maybe you are hiding under your desk. This terrible incident along with the recently reported abuses reported by breast cancer survivors and the new accusations of theft seem to have created a significant silence from TSA's PR machine. Again Bob we're waiting. What say you?

Submitted by Anonymous on

"...TSA has to act on the what if effect. What if this passenger was able to get this gun on board and what if this person had a bad day and what if it was YOUR bad misfortune to be the one in front of this person."

What if...

What if *you* are the terrorist? Maybe we should go ahead and arrest you just to make sure you aren't.

*What if* the TSA were to actually follow one of the guiding principals of this country and assume we are all innocent until proven otherwise.

*What if* each of us were to understand that Freedom and Liberty have a price and that price is Personal Responsibility. It is not the governments responsibility to make any of us feel safe. Provide Safety yes! But not to make us feel safe. The saying is Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death. Nothing there about feeling safe when at an airport.

Submitted by Anonymous on

TSA has to act on the what if effect. What if this passenger was able to get this gun on board and what if this person had a bad day and what if it was YOUR bad misfortune to be the one in front of this person.

Well, according to the TSA's own numbers, about 70% of weapons, test bombs, etc. are missed during the carry-on luggage search. So, that means that those 32 guns were only 30% of the guns carried through the check point and something like 70 guns actually flew.

TSA reps, when you have some better numbers for your success rate, please share them. It will make the terrorists more scared, won't it?

TSA should be concentrating on guns and bombs. Forget the war on liquids, forget searching for cash, drugs and other non-dangerous and or legal items. Stop removing knives, pliers and other small tools. The passengers will make short work of anyone trying to hijack a plane with a box cutter again, you betcha. Get your success rate up on truly dangerous items, screen all the air cargo and quit boasting about finding somebody's paperweight.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I'm amazed at the number of comments attacking the TSA for finding weapons, etc. How is it they get ridiculed for confiscating weapons and other prohibited items? What do you propose? No security? Just let everyone and anyone carry whatever they want on the plane? Some people may "forget" they have a weapon on them but I personally think that if you are so careless with a loaded weapon that you "forget" you have it on you then maybe you shouldn't be allowed to carry. Has anyone given any thought that some of these folks are really terrorist looking for weak spots. Or, maybe they are undercover TSA employees looking for sloppy work. Please stop insulting the TSA and making it their fault. Oh, and I am one of those people that forgot they had contraband (a leatherman's tool) in Denver. I apologized to the agent and have not bothered to replace the tool.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Was anything caught by the body scanners? It looks like everything was caught with the x-ray luggage machine, which is the same method that has been used for decades.

No comment on the two women with cancer that were harassed last week? I expected the standard response that "proper procedures were followed". You really should post the video to prove that.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I really think that if we are not charged for every checked bag at a expensive rate we wouldnt be forced to carry on all we need or want to have to feel safe, maybe the airlines are helping to create this problem. they need a firearms fly free program. Really I think everyone in every state should have the right to carry a firearm, stun gun or protective device.

Submitted by JoJo on

Anonymous said, "I'm amazed at the number of comments attacking the TSA for finding weapons, etc. How is it they get ridiculed for confiscating weapons and other prohibited items? What do you propose? No security?"

Have you not been reading? Have you not seen the countless other proposals right on this blog? Hell, there's one right directly above your own comment. Asking if people who oppose the TSA's current procedures would prefer no security is a logical fallacy known as a false dichotomy. No one has suggested there be no security. You can be against TSA's current procedures and still believe we should have security. But you know this. You're just trying to shut people up.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Pathetic that we're still spending BILLIONS on people doing a job equally done with WTMDs a decade ago.

Government bloat and encroachment on your basic liberties. This is what we must defend.

Submitted by Anonymous on
This terrible incident along with the recently reported abuses reported by breast cancer survivors and the new accusations of theft seem to have created a significant silence from TSA's PR machine. Again Bob we're waiting. What say you?

Bob says nothing. He will just remain silent on the assumption that we'll soon forget about this incident, just as we presumably have forgotten about the drug smuggling bribery at LAX, the racial profiling quotas in Boston (which required the personal intervention of Janet Napolitano to craft a non-response that masterfully avoided even the suggestion that anyone at TSA did anything wrong), and the numerous other incidents upon which Bob has not deigned to comment.

When an incident can plausibly be spun or pretzeled into vindication of the TSA, or perhaps into an opportunity to spew platitudes in praise of the professionalism and high standards of TSO conduct, Bob will issue the requisite propaganda piece. Then he'll watch as TSA critics harmlessly and pointlessly vent their outrage and frustration into comments that will safely be ignored.

But when an incident shines glaring light on the incompetence of TSOs or on the agency's systemic failings, Bob remains strangely silent. Silence seems to be official TSA policy for handling incidents where TSA conduct was so clearly wrong that it can't be denied, defended, justified, or dismissed as fabrication.

We should therefore take the silence as an admission that the officers did not act properly. And also as an admission that TSA leadership have no intention of doing anything to correct the systemic failings in their agency that all too frequently manifest themselves as "incidents." They'll just ignore the incident and sweep the failure that caused it under the rug, just as they always do.

As for the Dunaj incident, I suspect that behind the curtain of secrecy and silence, bureaucrats throughout are scrambling like cockroaches to fully cover their posteriors and ensure that nobody is held accountable for this clear failure. That's always the top priority in responding to "incidents," as part of the TSA's Top Priority of evading accountability for any failures.

Once that's done, we might see Bob's attempt to spin it away. Maybe he'll even admit that the officers in question fell short of the high standards expected of them. But they've been sent for retraining, so we can now rely on them and all their colleagues to treat passengers with special needs with courtesy and sensitivity. That's how you spin an indefensible failure into a paean of praise for TSOs. But I think it most likely we'll never see anything from Bob about this incident. TSA leadership expects that we'll forget all about it soon enough, when the next outrageous incident gets reported.

The TSA constantly urges us never to forget 9/11. We should also never forget the many reported incidents of indefensible misconduct, to which the TSA has strategically chosen not to respond.
Submitted by Anonymous on

So, do the TSA apologists ever have a response other than the "If you're against the TSA you must not want any security at all" strawman?

Nobody's saying no security at all. We want effective security. Like, say, the security that was in place on September 10, 2011. For every "There's been no attack since 9/11, the TSA is working!" argument, there were no attacks from the time airport security was started in the early 70s until 9/11/01. And 9/11/01 was not a failure of security, and nothing the TSA has done since would have prevented it from happening.

If you're going to make counterarguments, at least make them real counterarguments, and not strawmen. That straw finished burning a long time ago.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Hopefully the presidential candidates will be asked tonight if they believe law-abiding tax-paying citizens must be virtually strip-searched or inappropriately touched to board a flight in the United States.

The TSA is a national disgrace.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Searching for weapons is a Herculean task. With so many travelers some are bound to get through.

The only sound way to protect the flight is to disable the travelers themselves with either drugs or physical restraints. The US Marshal Service transports inmates around the country without incident. Their experience would be invaluable for TSA safe transport of travelers.

Submitted by @SkyWayManAz on

I've tried to show a little patience waiting for answers on what went wrong in Seattle. Bob has been very quick to roll out video when it proves the traveler is at best embellishing the truth. However this is the latest in a very disturbing trend that there is no video, or at least none made available. The passenger says the screener opened one of her saline bags ruining it. If there is video it needs to be made available, even if you can't tell who did what. It's becoming unacceptable that everytime there's an incident like this there's no video. If the passenger went to the media they gave up their right to privacy in this matter, release the video. If there isn't one that's rather shocking an airport as major as SEA doesn't have the screening area recorded. If the videos keeps disappearing heads need to roll.

Submitted by RB on

Richard C. Cook II, 27, of Henry County is the second former Transportation Security Administration officer to plead guilty in the case after Timothy G. Gregory of DeKalb County pleaded guilty Oct. 4, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Atlanta said.

According to prosecutors, Cook met with undercover officers posing as drug cartel members on Jan. 11. He was given 3 kilograms of a substance he believed to be heroin and $3,500 in cash. In return, he smuggled the fake heroin through airport security and delivered it to an undercover officer inside the terminal, where he was given another $4,000 in cash, prosecutors said.

Undercover officers carried out a similar operation on Jan. 26, again supplying Cook with fake drugs and paying him a total of $7,500 in cash.


TSA employyes steal travelers cupcakes while other TSA employees smuggle three (3) kilo's (6.6 pounds) of an unknown substance past the check point. What if that had been an explosive?

Still think TSA is doing anything for your safety?

Submitted by Anonymous on

I guess we are not going to be given the TSA's side of the incident in Seattle where a terminally ill cancer patient claimed TSA employees disrespected and violated her rights while being screened. This incident along with the most recent claims by multiple breast cancer survivors that they too were treated rudely and with disrespect, in my opinion, shows the mind set of all too many TSA employees. I would think TSA would want be eager to at least tell their side of the story and either accept responsibility or deny these women were treated poorly. I think your silence more or less confirms my opinion of and experience with most TSOs. I really expected Bob to deny the claims and make a statement that all TSOs involved followed proper procedures and treated these ladys with courtesy and respect. Come on Bob address the issue, make a statement, and show us the videos. My Daddy always said, 'If you screw up, fess up" so man up Bob and tell us your side of the story.

Submitted by Anonymous on
According to prosecutors, Cook met with undercover officers posing as drug cartel members on Jan. 11. He was given 3 kilograms of a substance he believed to be heroin and $3,500 in cash. In return, he smuggled the fake heroin through airport security and delivered it to an undercover officer inside the terminal, where he was given another $4,000 in cash....

Yet another incident where bribery for drug smuggling goes on under the noses of TSA supervisors and managers, and only comes to light when someone outside the TSA discovers it.

The fact that officers are so easily bribed into aiding drug smugglers points to a systemic failure in TSA procedures, as well as in TSA supervision and management at airports. The TSA's culture of obsessive secrecy and evasion of accountability, where anything is tolerated until someone outside the agency makes it public, is surely a root cause of that failure.

And this will be another very serious TSA "incident" to which Bob will respond with silence, just as he did with the similar bribery cases in Los Angeles. When your job is to relentlessly remind the public that the TSA is infallible, silence is the only possible response to repeated incidents that undeniably show that the TSA is an incompetent agency riddled with serious systemic failures.

When an agency suffers from incident after incident, in a pattern that shows a complete lack of integrity, leadership, and competence, one would think that its leader would take decisive action. The bribery cases show that the TSA tolerates employees who repeatedly abuse and betray their position of trust. The racial profiling in Boston (and the response to it that carefully avoids even suggesting that anyone at TSA did anything wrong) shows a lack of integrity in encouraging violations of clearly-stated policies when it serves the agency's political needs. And the Dunaj incident in Seattle (just the latest incident involving TSO incompetence in screening special-needs passengers) shows a cascading failure of management, supervision, training, and competence.

So what decisive action is John Pistole taking? As far as I can tell, none. His approach seems to be to pretend that the problems don't exist. He apparently believes that if you don't respond to a problem, it will go away and we will forget about it. And also, because his agency is the gatekeeper for the privilege of flying, he believes that we will accept whatever mistreatment his incompetent employees inflict because we have no choice. When your motto is "Do you want to fly today?", there's no need for integrity, leadership, competence, "professionalism," or even common sense.

If Administrator Pistole truly believes that the right way to address obvious, serious deficiencies is to pretend they don't exist, he needs to be dismissed immediately. Arrogance does not equal leadership, any more than intrusive harassment equals security. But the TSA apparently believes that both equations are true.

Meanwhile, Bob is probably working on a batch of puppy posts.
Submitted by Anonymous on

Not going to happen now that the guns have been dealt with. Be real, if they had not been found and you were amongst the passengers on a plane that has one or more of theses weapons on it and the person holding that weapon has the worst intentions of killing everybody and crashing the plane.

Thanks TSA for doing the job that needs doing.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Weekly blog does little more than provide employment, and provide "pretty pictures of guns." But since some upper management approved it, and "bob"? gets a pay check, it will continue IMO.
Does the TSA even get good press out of this site? The state of Virgina reports how many speeding tickets were issued but are mute of other types (except in the total count.) Shows to me that TSA/VA/goverment decides what is important. :(

You might append the 3n3n3n3n IP address onto the anonymus posts so there is some uniqueness in a name for responses.

The cancer patient story was interesting, as was the ABC story about theft and no one checks employees upon leaving work (with passenger items.)

I'd like to be able to sue an agent for violations (not possible), because if I punched them out I'd be arrested (rightfully so, but oh, so tempting after stories I've read of abuses of power.)

Submitted by Anonymous on

It is amazing how people say "if you forget you have a loaded gun on your person you are irresponsible." This is just not the case. If it is second nature to you to grab your gun and put it on your person before you leave your house you will do this subconsciously. It is entirely plausible that when a traveler is so caught up in trying to get everything packed and get out the door to the airport,consciously they are worried about getting out the house, unconsciously their mind sees the gun on the table and they reach for it and put it away. This is done inadvertently, without malice, and out of sheer habit. As a result while their conscious mind may still see the gun on the table, they actually have the gun on them. I am ex-special forces and us air martial trained, I can't tell you how many times I wake up take a shower, and poof my ankle holster is on in the shower. It happens, but of course only anti-gun advocates wouldn't know this.