TSA Officer stops assault rifle at Louis Armstrong New Orleans

Assault Rifle with 163 Rounds In Local Passenger’s Carry-on Bag
Local Press Release
Friday, February 17, 2023

NEW ORLEANS - A Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officer at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY) this week stopped a passenger with an assault rifle and 163 rounds of ammunition from being carried onto a plane headed to Houston. 

“Threat detection is our mission and our dedicated workforce is protecting the traveling public every day,” said TSA Federal Security Director Arden Hudson. “Passengers need to focus on what is inside their carry-ons before entering our checkpoint. The introduction of a loaded weapon poses an unnecessary risk to both the traveling public and our employees.”

Magazine clips photo

TSA officers partnered immediately with a Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s deputy assigned to the airport. The deputy took control of the Palmetto PA-15 Multi AR firearm loaded with 30 rounds of .300 caliber ammunition. Five additional magazines were also loaded, bringing the total to 163 rounds in the carry-on.

The traveler was a 52-year-old Jefferson, Louisiana, resident. He now faces a civil penalty from the TSA that could reflect the maximum of nearly $15,000.

That firearm was the second intercepted on Valentine’s Day. Yesterday a Glock was stopped, bringing the total to 14 firearms stopped this year by TSA officers at MSY. Thirteen out of the 14 were loaded. The passengers in New Orleans ranged in age from 24 to 52. Elsewhere in the state, a 64-year-old male was stopped at Shreveport Regional Airport (SHV) this month and a 66-year-old male was stopped at Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport (BTR) in January. Both of those guns were also loaded.

Ammo photo

In 2021 MSY - with 119 guns intercepted - was in the top 10 airports in the country for passengers violating federal law by bringing a firearm to the security checkpoint. While MSY did not make the list in 2022, the number was still disturbingly high at 90 guns. Also across Louisiana, TSA officers last year intercepted 12 guns at SHV, eight at Lafayette Regional Airport (LFT), three each at Monroe Regional Airport (MLU) and Alexandria International Airport (AEX,) two at BTR and one at Lake Charles Regional Airport (LCH).

“If you are going to travel with your gun it must be in your checked bag, but be sure you know exactly what the gun laws are on each side of your trip,” said Hudson, who leads TSA’s operations across the State of Louisiana. “Guns may not be legal to transport even in checked baggage in some jurisdictions.”

Here are five tips for getting through the TSA checkpoint as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Tip 1: No guns in carry-ons. Firearms must be in checked baggage. All firearms must be properly packed and declared to the airline at check-in, which means unloaded and in a locked, hard-sided case. Contact your airline for additional guidance. And it is your responsibility to know what the gun laws are on both sides of your trip.

Tip 2: Leave all prohibited items at home. To reduce the likelihood of a bag search, a civil penalty from the TSA and possible arrest, search your own bag before leaving home. Unsure if it’s allowed: use the “What Can I Bring?” link on TSA.gov.

Tip 3: Prepare for the security checkpoint. Have a valid ID card readily available. Follow the liquids, gels and aerosols 3-1-1 rule of 3.4 ounces or less for each item and the items should be placed in a one-quart-sized bag, one per passenger, if you are traveling with a carry-on bag. Also empty your pockets into your carry-on rather than into a bin.

Tip 4: Help is available. Get live assistance by tweeting your questions to @AskTSA in English or Spanish or via Facebook Messenger. You can also call the TSA Contact Center at 866-289-9673.

Tip 5: Enroll now in TSA PreCheck. Travel with ease by enrolling in TSA PreCheck and avoid removing shoes, belts, liquids and laptops. Most new enrollees receive a known traveler number within five days, and membership lasts for five years.