TSA catches Oklahoma man with loaded handgun at Des Moines International Airport

Local Press Release
Monday, November 30, 2020
This loaded handgun was detected by TSA officers in a man’s carry-on bag on Nov. 24, at Des Moines International Airport. (TSA photo.)

DES MOINES, Iowa –Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers caught an Oklahoma resident with a .380 caliber handgun loaded with six bullets, plus an additional 13 bullets in his carry-on bag at Des Moines International Airport on Nov. 24th, just two days before the busy Thanksgiving holiday travel period.

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.  

“Individuals who want to fly with their firearms are permitted to do so. This traveler did it the wrong way,” said John Bright, TSA’s Federal Security Director for Iowa. “The right way to transport a firearm is to unload it. Then pack it in a hard-sided case and lock the case. Upon arriving to the terminal, take the locked 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.”

TSA reserves the right to issue a civil penalty to travelers who have guns and gun parts with them at a checkpoint. A typical first offense for carrying a loaded handgun into a checkpoint is $4,100 and can go as high as $13,669 depending on any mitigating circumstances. 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. If a traveler with a gun is a member of TSA PreCheck®, that individual will lose their TSA PreCheck privileges.

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







(As of 11-29-20)

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.