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Transportation Security Administration

TSA Week in Review: December 1 - 9

Wednesday, December 12, 2018
Firearms discovered by TSA from December 1 to 9

TSA screened 17.7 million passengers and discovered 93 firearms in carry-on bags at 65 airports from Dec. 1 through 9. Of the 93 firearms discovered, 76 were loaded and 29 had a round chambered. Bringing a firearm through the security checkpoint may result in a civil penalty of up to $13,333. Repeat violations will result in higher penalties.

Learn how to properly travel with your firearms in checked baggage. Note that airline policies may differ from TSA’s, so we strongly recommend travelers check with their airline prior to traveling. Travelers should also review state and local firearm laws at both their departure and destination, as they vary.

All of the firearms pictured were discovered from Dec. 1 to 9.

Replica mortar shells

These five replica mortar shells were discovered in the checked bag of an Orlando International Airport passenger on Dec. 1. Baggage screening operations were stopped until an explosives specialist could respond and declare the items safe. Anything resembling an explosive item is prohibited in carry-on and checked bags. Packing these items can cause an airport to shut down or evacuate and may result in a civil penalty or arrest.

Artfully concealed knife and scissors

This carry-on bag looked a bit suspicious to our Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport X-ray operator. During a bag check, scissors and a knife were found wrapped in tin foil in the bag’s lining. Scissors with blades shorter than 4 inches, measured from the tip to the pivot point, are allowed in carry-on bags. Knives of any size and scissors with blades longer than 4 inches should be packed in your checked baggage.

Concealed pellet gun

This carbon dioxide powered semi-automatic pellet gun was discovered in a carry-on bag at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport on Dec. 6. The pellet gun did not have the federally required orange safety muzzle indicator. The passenger had the firearm tucked into a static shielding bag as pictured on the left. Firearms including airsoft guns, pellet guns and bb guns are prohibited in carry-on baggage.

TSA Tip: Attempting to conceal a prohibited item may result in arrest or a civil penalty.

TSA officer

Officer Straight from William P. Hobby Airport joined TSA in 2017. While working the X-ray on Dec. 1, she stopped this loaded .40 caliber firearm with a round chambered from making its way onto a flight. The passenger stated they forgot the firearm was in the bag.

TSA screening procedures prevent prohibited items and other threats to transportation security from entering the sterile area of the airport. Along with the finds highlighted in this post, our officers regularly find firearm components, realistic replica firearms, bb and pellet guns, airsoft guns, brass knuckles, ammunition, batons, stun guns, small pocket knives and many other dangerous items.

In most cases the traveler forgets the item is in their bag. This can lead to a citation and in some cases arrest. Unfortunately, this happens far too often. Our goal in sharing these finds is to remind travelers to check their bags and the rules before heading to the airport.

Want to know how many firearms we found last year? Check out our 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 blog posts.

And it’s that time of year! Check out our 5 tips to make your holiday travel smooth.

Follow @TSA on Twitter and Instagram and like us on Facebook.

Have a travel-related question? Ask TSA on Twitter or Facebook Messenger.

Jay Wagner


Submitted by 5 on

As always, absolutely nothing you needed your slow, invasive, and ineffective naked body scanners to detect. Meanwhile, how many people suffered physical searches thanks to false alarms on these useless machines?

Why are West Cooper and Jay Wagner unwilling to address, let alone answer, that question?

How many weeks has it been since you last trumpeted something dangerous you found with the naked body scanners?

Submitted by Patdown Or Assault? on

How is a passenger to determine whether a pat-down by TSA crosses the line into sexual assault?

Does any such line exist?

What should a passenger who is being sexually assaulted during a pat-down do?

Submitted by Anon on

"Knives and scissors with blades longer than 4 inches should be packed in your checked baggage." If knives are still going to be prohibited, is there any chance that the agency can change the wording on this? People are constantly confused because a casual reading of that sentence would indicate that a 3 inch knife would be ok for carry on. It seems like it would be less confusing to say "Knives of any length and Scissors with a blade longer than 4 inches..."

Submitted by Martin on

nice article, thanks!

Submitted by The "Original" RB on

Since TSA keeps records on how many guns are found, how many are loaded, and how many have a round chambered why not include the percentage of guns per passenger. TSA already has the numbers handy.

This last period for example, 93 guns / 17.7 million passengers / 9 days =

Submitted by T Murphy on

It is amazing how many firearms are found so many years after 9-11. General public just doesn't get it, knives as well.

Submitted by Leo Horishny on

These idiots deserve to lose these guns, and all gun access frankly. “Forgetting” where your gun is (most likely a LIE), is de facto proof you are not responsible enough TO have access to guns. And since the fines go to 10K and STILL idiots “forget” their guns in carryon bags, THEY have forfeited their right to gun ownership. Idiots, at best, conniving weasels trying to pull a fast one on the TSA screeners very likely.

Submitted by Jay Wagner on

@5 - Thanks for your questions. When our Advanced Imaging Technology detects a potential threat the officer sees a generic outline of a person appearing on the monitor that is attached to the machine. The generic outline is the same for all passengers. For more information on the technology, see:

If you are looking for the operational records for the machines, I encourage you to submit a FOIA request:

We featured a firearm in our last blog that was discovered in a passenger’s pocket by our Advanced Imaging Technology.

@Patdown or Assault? – I appreciate your tough questions. We understand that each person will have a different level of comfortability with the pat-down screening processes. However, pat-downs are necessary to ensure threats aren’t concealed on the person. At any time during the screening process you don’t feel comfortable, you may request a private screening room or ask to speak to a supervisor.

For more information on our pat-down screening, see:

Anyone who is anxious about the security process should contact TSA Cares before their trip for additional assistance getting through the security checkpoint.

@Anon - Thanks! I've updated the sentence to make it more clear.

@Martin – Thank you for your kind words.

@The “Original” RB – I appreciate the feedback! I’ll start including the percentage. Thanks for your suggestion.

Submitted by David on

Because it's working as a deterrent. Keeping dangerous items from flying is a good practice regardless who is carrying them.

Submitted by Not An Answer, Jay on

Nobody is asking you about "comfort levels.". The question is about the difference between what you subject people to at your checkpoints and sexual assault.

So, one more time: What is the difference between your patdowns and sexual assault?

Submitted by The "Original" RB on

How can a person give consent without knowing the extent of a TSA pat down? Do TSA procedures call for contact with genitals?

Submitted by You're Fitting ... on

...with your evasive nonresponses to simple questions.

Nobody asked anything about "operational records." You were asked about the false positive rate on your primary screening technology. Do you know what a false positive is, and can you share the false positive rate on your primary screening technology? Or do your agency not care about false alarms?

As for that firearm you keep.patting yourself on the back for, wouldn't it have been detected just as easily and faster by a WTMD?

Submitted by SSSS For Some Reason on

"...Officer Straight from William P. Hobby Airport ..."

So you gave us her name, her airport, and her photo but you still felt the need to blur out her Id tag?

Submitted by Rich on

I think TSA is doing a great job. The percentage of weapons/passengers may be low, but the one they find may be "the" one.

Submitted by Susan Richart on

Jay Wagner, since you seem amenable to answering questions, can you tell us how many "dangerous items" are found daily while groping passengers who "alarmed" while transiting a body scanner? That claim was made by former spokesperson Mike England many months ago. Both he and the TSA have refused to substantiate the claim. The best anyone can come up with is that in 2017 a knife and a gun were found, both of which would have been found with MMW.

Also, why do body scanner give false alarms so often on the "groin area"? Are the machines deliberately set to alarm in that area of the body so that screeners can get their hands into passengers' genitals hunting for non-existent "dangerous items"?

Thank you.

Submitted by Oph on

Not naked scanners cause it doesn't even show a picture of you. Don't like it take the bus or walk. Also I'm sure they have found stuff but cant say it. Plus I'm sure the scanner scares people into bringing prohibited items. Your welcome.

Submitted by Rufus T on

This blog is very helpful to those who have legitimate questions and concerns. Reading the small print, submissions are reviewed prior to posting. Why, then, do you let posts appear that are obviously "trolls"?

Thanks, appreciate the info and keep up the great work!

Submitted by Hermann Fegelein on

Clerk Rich, you know perfectly well that the only thing you and your fellow clerks do is to slow down the line through your laziness and slovenliness. Thus, the only effect you have on aviation safety is to make an attack easier by creating a concentrated target at the checkpoint.

And there are 19 weapons missed for every 1 that is caught, so there is no chance that the weapon a clerk catches will be "the" one. There is no chance that a reasonably diligent attempt at concealment would fail to get past the clerks while they argued with the passenger over whether or not peanut butter is a gel.

Submitted by Susan Richart on

"Submitted by David on Thu, 2018-12-13 20:01
Because it's working as a deterrent. Keeping dangerous items from flying is a good practice regardless who is carrying them."

"A 2017 Government Accountability Office report found the agency [TSA] has no information about its effectiveness in deterring attacks." From the Boston Globe article on the "Quiet Skies" boondoggle.

Submitted by NowYouKnow on

If you would bother yourself to do any amount of research you would know that the hysteria you're spreading with the idea of "naked body scanners" is fake news. The AIT machines the TSA uses are not x-ray machines and they only produce a generic avatar image, so every person looks the same after a scan.

Submitted by The "Original" RB on

Went through Pre Check screening at LAS last week. The WTMD randomized me so I was sent to the Whole Body Imager. The high tech Whole Body Imager alarmed on my right shoulder, or should I say false alarmed on my right shoulder. Real impressive that TSA's expensive high tech scanners are so faulty they can't be trusted to give reliable results.

$8,000,000,000.00 of taxpayer money each year to TSA and nothing has improved since 9/11.

Submitted by Fox on

Well, it depends on what is going on in that spoiled, entitled, victimhood mind of yours. Now quit harassing the TSA, get out of your mommy’s basement, and get a darn job already!

Submitted by Fox on


Submitted by Hermann Fegelein on

Clerk Rufus T, you understand that we know you're a TSA clerk, right? We don't care if TSA clerks want to call us "trolls" because we don't like the slovenly way they do their jobs. Here's an idea. If you want fewer people complaining about you, why not focus your attention on doing your job right?

Submitted by SSSS For Some Reason on

"..Submitted by Oph on Fri, 2018-12-14 08:48
Not naked scanners"

Still incorrect. It is a scanner that sees through clothes. I don't know about you but I am naked underneath my clothes. Thus.... naked-scanner is a correct description of the equipment. Not a scientific description, but still correct.

"...Also I'm sure they have found stuff but cant say it."

Like what? I'm asking you to imagine something that could be found but not broadcast on this blog in the weekly blotter post.

Then you said my favorite lie...." Don't like it take the bus or walk. "

Please tell me which bus will get me from San Franciscoto Hawaii. Please tell me how long it takes to walk from Miami to London. Please tell me which highway will get me from Denver to Morocco.

Submitted by Rufus T on

H. Fegelein -

Respectfully I am neither a TSA employee, or a clerk.

I am a private individual that understands that air travel is not a right- it is a privilege.

Regarding the TSA procedures; I will gladly put up with pat-downs, x-ray, naked scanning, body cavity search, waterboarding if it allows me to get to my destination. That is the ultimate goal of taking a flight.

I used the term "Trolls" to describe statements that are prying and inflammatory- not for the purpose of education, but to cause discord and incite bad behavior.

I believe that the TSA performs a necessary function, and am glad they are in place.

Thank you RT

Submitted by Susan Richart on

"Submitted by NowYouKnow on Fri, 2018-12-14 20:35
........The AIT machines the TSA uses are not x-ray machines and they only produce a generic avatar image, so every person looks the same after a scan."

Microwaves are a type of electromagnetic radiation, as are radio waves, ultraviolet radiation, X-rays and gamma-rays.

And inside the machine there is a naked picture which is, allegedly, immediately deleted.

Submitted by Susan Richart on

The "Original" RB wrote in part: "The high tech Whole Body Imager alarmed on my right shoulder, or should I say false alarmed on my right shoulder. Real impressive that TSA's expensive high tech scanners are so faulty they can't be trusted to give reliable results."

I understand that your shoulder alarmed and only your shoulder was patted down. I was under the impression that the "partial pat down" had been discontinued in favor of a whole body grope in order to relieve screeners of cognitive burdens. Either the airport didn't follow procedures or suddenly screeners' cognitive abilities have improved considerably.

Submitted by Fox on

@Pat-down or Assault
Here is the line: if you were really sexually assaulted, you would immediately go to the airport police and press charges against the tsa agent. Since you did not do that, you are here spewing little tantrums of entitlement. Thus you were really not assaulted.

Submitted by Fox on

Which bus? Well it depends on where your entitled mindset will take you. Sorry but you are not special. You are not entitled to tell tsa agents how to do their jobs. In fact, why don’t you focus on getting your job.

Submitted by Fox on

Funny how I don’t whine when I go through security. Funny how I follow the tsa agents’ instructions and get through security quickly.

Then again I was not raised to believe that I am some special snowflake who gets a trophy just for showing up who is entitled to tell other people how to do their jobs. I was also not raised to think of myself as a victim of tsa or anyone else.

I was raised however to get a job and make something of myself, hence why I am a scientist.

I am sorry that the people on here who are complaining were raised to believe that they are special, they are victims, they are snowflakes, and that they are entitled. As a result, this comment section is all they have going on in their lives. Poor parenting produces poor results.

And I don’t want to hear any more of you guy’s/girl’s sob stories about how the public are victims of tsa oppression. Please. I was denied the right to marry and the right to equal employment for most of my life and yet I don’t run around with rants of entitlement and snowflake victimhood.

Submitted by Jay Wagner on

@Not an Answer, Jay – I’m sorry you feel I didn’t answer the question. They are distinctly two different things. One is a security procedure used to ensure the safety of the traveling public; the other is a clearly defined criminal act.

@Original RB – Our officers are expected to explain the procedures while conducting the pat-down. Pat-downs may include sensitive areas such as breast, groin, and the buttocks.
For more information on our pat-down screening, see:

@You’re Fitting – It was not my intent to be evasive. There is an established process to receive the information you are requesting. Submitting a Freedom of Information Act request ( requires a response from the agency within 20 business days and provides an appeal process if you’re not satisfied with the results.

Strengthening the effectiveness of our operations by working with industry partners to improve detection capabilities is one of TSA’s priorities. (

A metallic firearm would be detected by a metal detector.

@SSS For Some Reason – Thanks for the question! It’s always been a policy to blur employee badges. They contain more information than what was provided above.

@Rich – Thanks for the comment. Our agency is full of truly dedicated professionals who are committed to keeping commercial flights safe.

@Susan Richart – I’m happy to answer questions to the best of my ability. I’m not familiar with the specific claim you are referring too. In last week’s blog we highlighted a firearm that was discovered by our Advanced Imaging Technology that was located in a passenger’s pocket.

Our Advanced Imaging Technology machines are used to screen passengers without the need for physical contact. We don’t focus on one area of the passenger as threats can be concealed anywhere.

You may be interested about our pilot of the next generation of Enhanced Advanced Imaging Technology at Denver Airport. (

Submitted by Still Not Answering on

"One is a security procedure used to ensure the safety of the traveling public; the other is a clearly defined criminal act."

And yet neither you nor West Cooper can put into words what makes your patdowns anything other than sexual assault. If the only thing you've got going for you is the intent of the perpetrator, that's little comfort for the people who are being assaulted by TSA every single day, now, isn't it?
Especially the ones you're assaulting on the say-so of technology with a 100% false positive rate!

Submitted by SSSS For Some Reason on

Submitted by Rufus T "..I believe that the TSA performs a necessary function, and am glad they are in place."

I believe that the function of the TSA is better done by someone other than the TSA. The TSA costs a great deal of money, eight billion dollars every year, and delivers very little for that expense. The amount of problems caused by the TSA far exceeds any benefit they may or may not provide.

Submitted by Fox on

@Susan Richart

As an actual scientist I will throw in some facts into the discussion:

Cancer caused by radiation occurs when highly energized gamma rays or similar radiation contains enough energy to collide with at least one electron on an atom and can cause that/those electron(s) to “fly off” of the atom. This changes the atom’s consistency and thereby changes any molecule that the atom is attached to; in this case DNA. Enough radiation must be present in order to damage the DNA beyond the cell’s natural repair mechanisms.

As I said, radiation MUST have enough energy for this to occur. The “radiation” in the body scanners do not possess the energy necessary to damage DNA.

The radiation produced by your cell phone has far more energy than the body scanners and the background radiation from being 12k meters (or 40k feet) is far more energized than your cell phone; and the plane’s “hull” does not have anywhere near enough material or shielding to block this radiation. Simply put, don’t board an airplane if you are worried about radiation.

And radiation is simply a mode of particle travel. Light bulbs give off visible light radiation. The human body gives off infrared radiation in the form of body heat.

Furthermore to this day there has been no substantiated or validated evidence or studies that demonstrate that these body scanners cause cancer. What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.

Furthermore this scanner radiation business is a non issue given the many carcinogens that are present in new cars, houses, buildings, and the general and particular environments that you are in. Even if you were to get cancer, and even if these body scanners could produce the energies required for ionization; you would have no way of proving in court or in science that your particular cancer came from the scanners (were they to produce the needed energy) and not from these many other sources.

As for the data:
_Number of people who died from the tsa body scanners: 0 persons per 100 years;
_Number of people that die from car accidents: 1 person per every 20 minutes;

Now if you have any validated and demonstrated evidence/studies that have passed the rigors of scientific validation, please present your evidence. Note: assertions and claims that use “sciency” words from websites that are driven by ideological motivations regarding alleged tsa “oppression” do not count as validated scientific evidence. All of the information and facts listed in my explanation are basic scientific facts that one should be able to obtain in introductory science textbooks and classes (even at the grade-school level). A search of Google and Wikipedia even returned results that are consistent when the facts that I presented.

Submitted by Fox on

Grammar correction for the comment that I just posted: 12k meters/40k feet refers to altitude in the air. Hopefully the airplane context would make my grammatical intention clear.

Submitted by Fox on

Second grammar correction: when the facts is changed to with the facts. I really need to use my spell checker, otherwise I will sound like one of these “sovereign citizen” failures.

Submitted by Susan Richart on

Rufus T wrote: "I am a private individual that understands that air travel is not a right- it is a privilege."

WRONG: "A citizen of the United States has a public RIGHT OF TRANSIT through the navigable airspace."...49 US Code-Section 40103 (2)

Submitted by Susan Richart on

Fox wrote, in part: "Here is the line: if you were really sexually assaulted, you would immediately go to the airport police and press charges against the tsa agent."

You do know, don't you, that the TSA has told airport PDs to ignore changes of sexual assault by passengers?

TSA lie: "…contact with Plaintiff's genitals, if any at all, was incidental and occurred through the course of a typical security pat-down."

It’s deliberate, humiliating & sexually abusive and it seems as if some screeners enjoy it.


Submitted by Susan Richart on

Jay Wagner wrote: "I’m not familiar with the specific claim you are referring too."

Your colleague advised us several weeks ago that in 2017 a knife was found during a pat down of a passenger who had gone through the scanner and FOX5 Denver had this report:

However, TSA claims that such items are found daily via scanners and pat downs. Yet, as the FOX5 report states: "However, other than the official record regarding the one pocketknife discovered at DIA during physical screening in 2017, TSA has never addressed how many dangerous objects are discovered during the pat-down process."

It also goes on to state that: "Harmon said TSA does not require screeners to report how or where they might discover a prohibited item."

Of course, if screeners are not required to track how/where items are found, it makes it that much easier for TSA to make false claims that they are found every day in pat downs.

Submitted by Fox on

@Susan Richart
Excuses and conspiracy theories combined with unsubstantiated claims. Does the Illuminati also use aliens to probe passengers without their knowledge as well?

I expected an actual challenge and all I got was a poor excuses for an argument. You made a conspiracy claim with NO evidence. What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.

MeToo? LoL! Nice try, but the larger public is aware that selfish people like those on this comment section have poisoned it from the inside with their narcissism and Munchausen, which is what your MeToo comment and your entire response seems to be.

Again if you think you have been assaulted, go to the police and put your money where your mouth is. You people tout yourselves as real victims of tsa oppression with all of this liberation wisdom and yet when you are called to back it up in the ring you cower and present lame conspiracy theories. Guess what, no tsa agent wants to touch someone who has a nasty personality.

Thankfully I am gay, I will never need to deal with these fake sexual assault victims who steal the spot light in order to satisfy their own ego while the real victims must suffer in silence due to them being thought of as liars all because some people like those on this comment section want to use MeToo to get their 15 minutes. Pfft.

Submitted by Fox on

@Susan Richart
Wrong again. Those airplanes are not yours. They belong to the airline. You have no right to use another person’s private property. And for me personally if a person has not been throughly screened, is refusing screening, or is an entitled nasty little brat, they are not flying on my airline. Private property, a basic Constitutional concept. Want to fly? Get a private jet.

Submitted by Fox on

@Susan Richart
TSA does not need to share info on knives found. You are not entitled to it anymore than you are entitled to the nuclear launch codes from the President or any more than I am entitled to your social security number.

Submitted by Fox on

Man, I was expecting more of a challenge but all of these entitled people keep presenting lousy arguments and conspiracy theories. LoL! Fox News? Sorry but news networks do not count as qualified experts on anything. Do you conspiracy theorists have any real validated evidence?

Submitted by SSSS For Some Reason on

@Fox "...urthermore this scanner radiation business is a non issue given the many carcinogens that are present in new cars, houses, buildings, and the general and particular environments that you are in."

You miss the point. Radiation exposure is cumulative. We are going to receive X amount of radiation while flying at altitude AND then we are going to receive how much more while in the unmeasured and uncalibrated radiological devices that I like to call the Nudie-Scanners?

Why should I be subjected to even MORE radiation exposure just because I choose a specific method of interstate travel?

Submitted by Fox on

@Susan Richart
Oh and the law has a little something that you didn’t mention:

(b)Use of Airspace.—
(1) The Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration shall develop plans and policy for the use of the navigable airspace and assign by regulation or order the use of the airspace necessary to ensure the safety of aircraft and the efficient use of airspace. The Administrator may modify or revoke an assignment when required in the public interest.
(2) The Administrator shall prescribe air traffic regulations on the flight of aircraft (including regulations on safe altitudes) for—
(A) navigating, protecting, and identifying aircraft;
(B) protecting individuals and property on the ground;
(C) using the navigable airspace efficiently; and
(D) preventing collision between aircraft, between aircraft and land or water vehicles, and between aircraft and airborne objects.
(3) To establish security provisions that will encourage and allow maximum use of the navigable airspace by civil aircraft consistent with national security, the Administrator, in consultation with the Secretary of Defense, shall—
(A) establish areas in the airspace the Administrator decides are necessary in the interest of national defense; and
(B) by regulation or order, restrict or prohibit flight of civil aircraft that the Administrator cannot identify, locate, and control with available facilities in those areas.

In other words, you don’t have a blanket right to just travel in the air. And there is also that little private propert thing where the airplanes that you are using are not your private property but someone else’s. You nor anyone else has a right to someone else’s property.

Submitted by The "Original" RB on

Is Blogger West still a participating member of the TSA Blog?

His absence has been noted.

Submitted by Susan Richart on

Thanks for the good laugh, Fox. How long did it take you to compose an answer to a question that nobody asked?

Submitted by Are You On Crack? on

"One is a security procedure used to ensure the safety of the traveling public; the other is a clearly defined criminal act."

People who commit sexual assault don't get to tell their victims they weren't "really" assaulted. Congratulations - you're every bit as smarmy and evasive as Curtis Burns was and it's only your second month.