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Transportation Security Administration

TSA Week in Review: May 6 - 19

Wednesday, May 22, 2019
firearm cover

Sorry I missed you all last week. Sometimes I wish I were a robot so I could crank out these blog posts without ever needing to power down. Now, with my batteries recharged, I’m kicking off the rust and jumping in!

Between May 6 and 19, TSA screened 32.1 million passengers and found 176 firearms in carry-on bags. Of the 176 firearms discovered, 153 were loaded and 54 had a round chambered.

Since @RB noticed it was left off the last blog, between April 29 and May 5, TSA screened 15.8 million passengers.

As a reminder, bringing a firearm to the security checkpoint may lead to a civil penalty of up to $13,333 or an arrest. And if you’re a TSA Pre✓® member, you could lose your status. If you must travel with your firearm, check out our transporting firearms and ammunition page to learn how to pack it properly.

See all firearm discoveries from May 6 - 19 in this chart.

Robot Rodeo

Wait! Speaking of robots, last week I was able to attend the 13th annual Robot Rodeo and Capability Exercise hosted at New Mexico’s Kirtland Air Force Base by Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. Explosive response teams from all around the country cowboy’d up to test their skills in challenging environments. Two TSA Transportation Security Explosives Specialists from Albuquerque International Sunport participated in the competition by developing challenges to help familiarize teams with aviation threats.

Explosives discovered at airports

One advantage of using robots to clear explosive threats is that nobody has to wear one of those hot bomb suits. Anytime one of our officers discovers a potential explosive they call in a real life explosives specialist to clear the alarm. This can take time and lead to flight delays. So think about that before you decide to pack your projectiles for a trip to grandma’s.

Pictured above from the left:

  • Two inert projectiles were discovered in a checked bag at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport on May 15.
  • A novelty grenade bottle opener was located in a carry-on bag at George Bush Intercontinental Airport on May 9.
  • Boxes of sparklers were removed from a carry-on bag at Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport on May 11.

Replica Firearms discovered at airports

The nuts and bolts of it are that even if a firearm is a totally fake replica, it still can’t be packed in your carry-on bag! Airsoft and BB guns are also not allowed in your carry-on. The good news is that replica, airsoft and BB guns are totally allowed in your checked bag. That’s a pretty easy solution I’d say. Just check with your airline for their rules.

Pictured above from the left:

  • A pellet gun was packed in a carry-on bag at Lehigh Valley International Airport.
  • A replica blunderbuss was found packed in a carry-on bag at Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport on May 10.
  • An airsoft gun was located in a carry-on bag at Buffalo Niagara International Airport on May 18.

Belt buckle knives

Push your pant buttons together with these belt buckles! It’s not every day we find an adrenaline junkie’s belt buckle knife at the checkpoint, but when we do, it’s still prohibited. This week we found three! You can still pack this piece of tactical hardware in your checked bags, but for now just wear proper fitting pants and pack your belt buckle knife in your checked bag.

The first two belt buckle knives were discovered at Charlotte Douglas International Airport on the same day, May 18. The one on the right was located at Salt Lake City International Airport on May 8.

Our mission at TSA is to ensure you get to your destination safely by keeping dangerous items off planes. The most common explanation we hear from travelers is “I forgot it was in my bag.” Don’t be that person. Save yourself some money and embarrassment and thoroughly check your bags for prohibited items before heading to the airport.

So, come prepared! For a list of prohibited items, be sure to use the What Can I Bring? tool. If you have questions about the security process, reach out to AskTSA on Twitter or Facebook Messenger. Our AskTSA team will happily answer even the most outlandish travel-related questions.

Want to know how many firearms we found last year? Check out our 2018 blog post.

Also, don’t forget to check out our top 10 most unusual finds video for 2018.

Want to learn more or see the other wacky finds? Follow us @TSA on Twitter and Instagram and like us on Facebook.

Jay Wagner


Submitted by Larry Branscum on

Thanks TSA for all the great work you do!

Submitted by Mental Health A... on

Reading the blog posts it is important to remember the importance of good mental health. Getting obsessed with a topic, especially one that you have no control over, can make for difficult times. Please look after yourselves and each other.

Submitted by RB on

I'm not making a statement that guns are not a problem just pointing out the scope of the problem.

TSA found 176 guns/from 32,000,000.00 passengers = 0.0000055 guns per passenger over a two week reporting period.

I'd be interested if the replica and airsoft guns found are included in the 176. Wouldn't change the percentage much but does pad the numbers in favor of TSA.

So we can see that a great deal of manpower and our tax dollars are going towards finding this almost nonexistent problem. There has to be a better way than paying government employees for life.

Submitted by D Ferris on

Read a few old responses trashing the TSA for a long litany of ills...
I appreciate the service of any and all individuals who, like the military, help keep us safe on a daily basis. Is the TSA absolutely perfect? No, but neither is the military, our judicial system, or any of elected official - we are all human, make mistakes, and have unconscious bias.

I thank all of you who serve this country, in uniform and out of uniform, who deal with unappreciative members of the public on a daily basis. In spite of conspiracy theories to the contrary, I've never met a TSA agent with 2 heads hell-bent on violating my civil rights! All my interactions have been professional, prompt, and courteous. It is appreciated, if not always acknowledged.

Submitted by SSSS For Some Reason on

Submitted by D Ferris on Thu, 2019-05-30 10:04...I appreciate the service of any and all individuals who, like the military, help keep us safe on a daily basis."

The TSA does not keep us safe. Not even a little bit.

"..Is the TSA absolutely perfect? "

I would accept occasionally perfect, but the TSA can't even manage to follow their own commenting policy so why should we ever trust them with something as complex as protecting the skies?

"...I thank all of you who serve this country,"

That does not include the TSA. Not even slightly. Yes, they are Government employees, but they in no way can be compared to the Military.

"...All my interactions have been professional, prompt, and courteous"

Happy for you. My experiences with the agency are very different.

Submitted by Jay Wagner on

@Larry Branscum – Thanks for the compliment!

@RB – We don’t include replica, BB or airsoft guns in the final count. You can see the entire list of 176 firearms using the link above.

@D Ferris – Well said and thanks for your honesty!

Submitted by Hermann Fegelein on

Clerk J, you know from the IP address that D Ferris is a TSA clerk. Due to the uniformly lazy and slovenly performance that characterizes TSA clerks, it is impossible for anyone who has been on as many as 5 flights to have had all of his encounters with TSA clerks be professional, prompt (seriously, don't make me laugh) and courteous.