TSA catches man with loaded handgun at Des Moines International Airport

Local Press Release
Monday, October 5, 2020
This loaded handgun was detected by TSA officers in a man’s carry-on bag on Oct. 3, at Des Moines International Airport. (Photo courtesy of TSA.)

DES MOINES, Iowa –Transportation Security Administration officers caught a man with a 9 mm caliber handgun loaded with five bullets, including one in the chamber, in his carry-on bag at Des Moines International Airport on Saturday, Oct. 3.

TSA officials immediately alerted the Des Moines Police, who responded to the checkpoint, and confiscated the firearm from the traveler before citing him on a weapons charge. The man was a resident of Guam.

“Individuals who want to fly with their firearms are permitted to do so as long as they follow the regulations for transporting their weapon,” said John Bright, TSA’s Federal Security Director for Iowa. “If you want to travel with your firearm, the first thing you should do is make sure it is unloaded. Then pack it in a hard-sided case and lock the case. Upon arriving at the airport, take the case to the airline check-in counter and declare that you want to fly with it. The airline will make sure it is stored securely in the underbelly of the plane so that nobody has access to it during the flight. If you’re unsure how to transport your gun, just visit the TSA website, www.tsa.gov.”

TSA reserves the right to issue a civil penalty to travelers who have guns with them at a checkpoint. This applies to travelers with or without concealed gun carry permits because even though an individual may have a concealed carry permit, it does not allow for a firearm to be carried onto an airplane. The complete list of civil penalties is posted online.

Guns caught by TSA at the Des Moines International Airport checkpoint 2016 to 2020







(As of 10-4-20)

Guns caught

At checkpoint






Nationwide last year, 4,432 firearms were discovered in carry-on bags at checkpoints across the country, averaging about 12.1 firearms per day, approximately a 5% increase nationally in firearm discoveries from the total of 4,239 detected in 2018. Eighty-seven percent of firearms detected at checkpoints last year were loaded.

TSA has details on how to properly travel with a firearm posted on its website. Travelers should also contact their airline as they may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition.