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During the month of January, TSA screened 61 million passengers and discovered 327 firearms in carry-on bags. That is six firearms more than the same month last year. Of the 327 firearms discovered, 291 were loaded and 130 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.
It is important to know 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 above were discovered at Indianapolis International Airport in January. View the full list of firearm discoveries.
On Jan 4, a loaded 9mm Smith & Wesson was discovered in a carry-on bag. The passenger said they forgot about the firearm and was issued a summons before boarding their flight.
A loaded .380 caliber Smith & Wesson was discovered on Jan 6.
The following day, Indianapolis officers discovered an unloaded .380 Ruger in a passenger’s carry-on bag.
A loaded Ruger with one 9 mm round chambered was discovered on Jan. 11 inside of a carry-on bag. The passenger forgot about the firearm and was issued a summons by local law enforcement.
The next day, a loaded 9 mm Keltec was discovered in a carry-on bag. This passenger also forgot that the firearm was in the bag and received a citation from local law enforcement.
On Jan. 16, a loaded .380 Ruger was discovered in a carry-on bag along with an additional magazine with six more rounds. The passenger received a summons from law enforcement.
On Jan. 17, a loaded .380 Smith & Wesson with a round chambered was discovered in a carry-on bag. The passenger received a citation from local law enforcement.
Making it a three-day streak, a loaded .380 Ruger with a round chambered was discovered in a carry-on bag. For forgetting the firearm was in the bag, the passenger received a summons from local law enforcement officials.
A loaded Smith & Wesson revolver was discovered in a carry-on bag on Jan. 22. The passenger stated they forgot the firearm was in their bag.
On Jan. 24, a loaded .380 Ruger was detected in a carry-on bag along with a pocket knife.
An antique 1914 loaded Smith & Wesson revolver was discovered in a passenger’s carry-on bag on Jan. 26. The passenger stated a family member packed the bag and was unaware of the firearm.
All of the items pictured above were discovered at the screening checkpoint, starting from the left. Packing grenades, road flares or attempting to conceal prohibited items may also result in a civil penalty or arrest.
Security screening at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport briefly closed on Jan. 6, when officers discovered a grenade in a passenger’s bag. Security screening resumed after an explosives specialist determined it was inert.
A knife was discovered inside of a flashlight at Eugene Airport on Jan 2.
On Jan. 12, officers discovered a road flare at Bill and Hillary Clintion National Airport.
A Springfield-Branson National Airport X-ray officer spotted a knife inside a tissue box on January 11.
During AIT screening, Orlando International Airport officers discovered a flask hidden on the body of a passenger on Jan 17.
An inert grenade was discovered at Raleigh Durham International Airport on Jan 29.
Ammunition isn’t allowed in carry-on bags, but may be allowed in checked bags. If you’re planning on packing ammo, check your airline’s website for their policies. Small arms ammunition must be securely packed in fiber, wood or metal boxes or other packaging designed to hold ammunition and be placed in your checked bag.
On Jan 22, officers at Raleigh-Durham International Airport discovered 100 rounds of .40-caliber ammunition.
Quad City International Airport officers discovered 100 rounds of .22 Long caliber ammunition along with a loaded magazine in a carry-on bag on Jan 17.
A firearm along with 87 rounds of .22 Long Rifleammunition was discovered in a carry-on bag at Rouge Valley International Airport on Jan 16.
Two boxes of .22-caliber ammunition were discovered in a carry-on bag at El Paso International Airport on January 18.
110 rounds of .380-caliber ammunition were discovered in a carry-on bag at Charleston International Airport on Jan. 23.
During X-ray screening, officers at Grand Forks International Airport discovered 50 rounds of .22-caliber ammunition and 20 rounds of .38-caliber on Jan 15.
Tied with ammunition, large knives are the most popular prohibited items officers discovered in January. Knives and other bladed items are allowed in your checked bags. To point out the obvious, please secure any sharp edges to prevent accidental injury when handling the checked bag.
On Jan. 20, Nashville International Airport officers discovered a large double-edged knife in a carry-on bag.
During X-ray screening, Charleston International Airport officers identified a sword cane on Jan. 20.
A hatchet was located in a carry-on bag of an El Paso International Airport passenger on Jan. 2.
Santa Barbara Airport officers discovered a knife-wrench combo on Jan. 8. Quick tip: tools shorter than seven inches, without blades are allowed in carry-on bags.
A 23-inch kanata sword was located in a carry-on bag by Dallas Ft. Worth International Airport officers on Jan. 27.
A decorative sword cane was discovered at Myrtle Beach International Airport on Jan. 8.
Did you know that swordsticks were considered a fashion accessory in the late 1800s? If you plan on using a vintage or secondhand cane to get through security, give the handle a tug to make sure it’s just a cane before heading to the airport.
Every day, 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 other firearm components, realistic replica firearms, BB guns, airsoft guns, brass knuckles, batons, stun guns, small pocket knives, and many other dangerous items.
As noted in the examples above, travelers frequently forget a prohibited 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 2018 blog post.
And don’t forget to check out our top 10 most unusual finds video for 2018.