TSA, guns at airports
(Photo by TSA)

While it seems simple enough to not bring a firearm to the airport in a carry-on bag, Transportation Security Administration officers discover thousands of guns a year. In fact, TSA agents found 3,957 firearms at checkpoints across the country in 2017. This averages to 11 guns found every day. Hartsfield-Jackson led with 245 guns (222 loaded) found by agents.

Even celebrities are guilty of this, with the latest being when police arrested the rapper Plies at the Tampa airport. While it is unknown if the rapper’s gun contained a round in the chamber, 84 percent of the guns found at checkpoints were loaded. Regardless, Plies faces one charge of carrying a concealed firearm.

Of course, TSA agents found a wide variety of other prohibited items as well. Last year, travelers tried to take ammunition, gunpowder, knives and even flashbang and smoke grenades onto planes.

Firearm laws vary by state and locality. However, travelers bringing firearms through checkpoints are subject to criminal charges, even those with conceal-carry permits. As such, travelers need to know what is in their carry-on bag. Additionally, gun owners must always know where their firearms are being kept at all times.

And be ready to pay a heft fine. According to the TSA, “As a reminder, individuals who bring weapons to a checkpoint are subject to federal civil penalties of up to $13,000. A typical first offense for carrying a handgun into a checkpoint is $3,900.”

TSA Firearm Regulations

  • When traveling, comply with the laws concerning possession of firearms as they vary by local, state and international governments.
  • If you are traveling internationally with a firearm in checked baggage, please check the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website for information and requirements prior to travel.
  • Declare each firearm each time you present it for transport as checked baggage. Ask your airline about limitations or fees that may apply.
  • Firearms must be unloaded and locked in a hard-sided container and transported as checked baggage only. As defined by 49 CFR 1540.5 a loaded firearm has a live round of ammunition, or any component thereof, in the chamber or cylinder or in a magazine inserted in the firearm. Only the passenger should retain the key or combination to the lock unless TSA personnel request the key to open the firearm container to ensure compliance with TSA regulations. You may use any brand or type of lock to secure your firearm case, including TSA-recognized locks.
  • Firearm parts, including magazines, clips, bolts and firing pins, are prohibited in carry-on baggage, but may be transported in checked baggage.
  • Replica firearms, including firearm replicas that are toys, may be transported in checked baggage only.
  • Rifle scopes are permitted in carry-on and checked baggage.

“Blogger Bob” Burns details 10 of the most unusual checkpoint finds in the following video.

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