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TSA Week in Review: August 26 - September 15

Wednesday, September 18, 2019
guns discovered at TSA checkpoints

Between August 26 and September 15, TSA screened 45.8 million passengers and found 253 firearms in carry-on bags. Of the 253 firearms discovered, 225 were loaded and 84 had a round chambered.

During the month of August, we discovered 329 firearms, which is 49 firearms less than the same month a year ago. Through August we found two more firearms compared to last year. Bringing a firearm is still a big problem, but it doesn’t appear to be increasing as we’ve seen over the last 10 years.

Don’t pack your firearm in your carry-on bag. 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. Check out our transporting firearms and ammunition page to learn how to pack it properly.

See all firearm discoveries from August 26 to September 15 in this chart.

Concealed Firearm

What in tarnation? A passenger at JFK on Tuesday brought a .45 caliber firearm concealed inside a block of tar. We’re not making this up! Officers had to beat the tar out of the box to secure the firearm. You could say he really got himself into a sticky situation…ba dum tss!

But seriously, don’t do this! If you must pack your heat, kindly place it in your checked bags and declare it to your airline. Before placing in your checked bag, make sure it is unloaded and packed in a locked hard sided case. See our transporting firearms and ammunition page to learn how to pack it properly.

explosives found at tsa checkpoints

“Excuse me TSA officer, that grenade in my carry-on bag is not real!” said a random passenger. Not that we don’t trust you, but like President Reagan used to say, “Trust, but verify.” Well, that verification process takes time because we have to call in an explosives specialist to evaluate the item. Delays, checkpoint closures, evacuations and missed flights all can be a result of packing an explosive device, even if it’s just a replica or toy. So I hope you trust me when I say, you are better off just leaving these items at home. Please use the examples above as your verification!

Pictured above:

  • An expended initiator was discovered at Pennsylvania’s Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport on August 26.
  • An empty replica grenade was found during X-ray screening at South Carolina’s Columbia Metropolitan Airport on September 8.
  • A grenade-shaped lighter was located in a carry-on bag at Minnesota’s Rochester International Airport on August 26.
  • A smoke grenade was discovered in a carry-on bag at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport on September 8.

inert grenade found a tsa security checkpoint

Let me go ahead and address the alligator in the room. Inert or empty grenades aren’t allowed at all. We’ll be saying, “See you later, violator” as you may be arrested. This photo isn’t staged; this was how it was discovered. And for those who are curious, alligators that are taking a very long nap are allowed, but we recommend you check with your airline before heading to the airport with one. This wasn’t another strike of the Florida Man! This incident happened at Louisiana’s Shreveport Regional Airport.

Concealed items

TSA officers are the best in the world at their jobs using cutting edge technology to keep prohibited items off airplanes. Attempting to conceal prohibited items from TSA officers can lead to a hefty civil penalty. So don’t even try to attempt it.

Pictured above:

  • A throwing star and pepper spray were discovered in the shoes of a Chicago O’Hare passenger on September 7.
  • A pocket knife and multiple blades were found under a carry-on bag’s lining taped to the pull handle support rods at Chattanooga Airport on September 3.

Knives, blades and some self-defense sprays are allowed in checked bags.

MCO Razor

You may be sitting on pins and needles for this next story, but this passenger was prepared to sit on razor blades. Safety razor blades aren’t allowed in carry-on bags and it’s not appropriate to put them in a sock and stuff ‘em down your pants in hopes of thwarting the cunning TSA officers. After an alarm by the AIT machine, during the pat down TSA officers at Orlando International Airport discovered that the passenger was concealing six boxes containing 162 razor blades in his pants on September 12.

Our mission at TSA is to do everything in our power to make sure you get to your destination safely by keeping dangerous items off planes. The most common explanation we hear from travelers for prohibited items 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. 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