TSA intercepts gun at Des Moines International Airport

Local Press Release
Monday, September 27, 2021
This handgun was detected by TSA officers in a passenger’s carry-on bag at Des Moines International Airport (DSM) on Sept. 26. (TSA photo)

DES MOINES – Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers prevented a handgun from making its way onboard an airplane at Des Moines International Airport (DSM) Sunday.

During the routine screening of carry-on luggage, a TSA officer spotted the image of a handgun on the X-ray screen. The incident occurred around 1:15 p.m., and TSA officials immediately alerted the Des Moines Police Department. The firearm was loaded. A law enforcement officer responded, confiscated the firearm, and issued a citation. The passenger, who has a permit to carry in the state in the state of Iowa, stated he forgot that the gun was in his backpack.

“TSA has a message for travelers: Take note of the contents of your carry-on luggage prior to coming to the airport to ensure that you do not bring firearms or others prohibited items to the security checkpoint,” Iowa TSA Federal Security Director John Bright said. “Even when it’s done unintentionally, this is unsafe and can seriously slow or shut down security screening until the police resolve the incident.”

TSA may impose civil penalties of up to $13,910 per violation per person. A typical first offense for carrying a loaded handgun into a checkpoint is $4,100. The complete list of civil penalties is on the TSA website. If a traveler with a gun is a member of TSA PreCheck®, that individual will lose their TSA PreCheck privileges for a period of time.

This is the sixth firearm detected at DSM this year. A total of 12 firearms were detected at DSM security checkpoints in 2019, and 7 last year.

Passengers are permitted to travel with firearms in checked baggage if they are unloaded, packed separately from ammunition in a locked hardback case and declared at the airline check-in counter. Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality. Travelers should check for firearm laws in the jurisdictions they are flying to and from.

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.