TSA Sets Record for Number of Packed Firearms Found

The TSA found 4,239 guns in carry-on luggage, setting a new record. (Photo: TSA/Facebook)

The Transport Security Administration, the TSA, found more than 4,200 improperly-checked guns in passengers’ bags last year, setting a new record. The agency scans luggage at 249 airports across the country and claims an 86 percent success rate at catching screened guns.

There are two conclusions to draw here. The first is that, in all likelihood, everyday-carry is becoming increasingly popular. The 4,239 found firearms represent a 7 percent increase in improperly-checked guns. Secondly, 14 percent of firearms go through unnoticed!

The TSA reports that the bulk of these guns were packed into luggage by passengers flying out of Southeastern and Southwestern states. This makes sense as states like Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Texas and the rest have a high number of concealed carriers.

As far as the 7 percent increase goes, TSA chief David Pekose said, “I’m just going to guess here; I think more people are just simply carrying weapons in the country and we reflect what we’re seeing around the country.”

“When you are going through a TSA screen checkpoint, you know you’re there. You don’t just happen upon that … before you hit the first person in line … just take a quick look through your bag,” Pekose said.

Pekose added that he is concerned about the guns that make it through the screening process.

“Oh, I’m troubled by that too. I think that everybody in TSA is troubled by it,” Pekoske said. “We do everything we can to figure out why it happened.”

It’s generally legal for passengers to fly with firearms, although the guns need to be checked in locked hard cases. The TSA just doesn’t want passengers to fly with guns in their carry-on luggage.

See Also: TSA Quick Tips on Flying with Firearms

Still, the procedure for packing guns can vary from airline to airline, so be sure to look up your airline’s rules before packing any bags. It’s also a good idea to check the TSA’s official policy before flying at the agency rules are subject to change as well.

Another tip is to print out a copy of the airline’s procedures for checking firearms in case the gate attendants are unsure of the process. And of course, make sure your firearms are legal in your destination state.

In the meanwhile, the TSA is working on better signs to remind passengers that they must properly check their firearms. People who try to pack guns in carry-on luggage can be arrested and fined up to $13,000.

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About the author: Max Slowik is a writer with over a dozen years of experience and is a lifelong shooter. He has unwavering support for the Second Amendment and the human right to self-defense. His ambition is to follow Thomas Paine, as a journalist by profession and a propagandist by inclination.

{ 10 comments… add one }
  • Joe February 8, 2019, 9:00 pm

    If a firearm went undetected, how were they able to count it?

    • R S vonRavensberg February 2, 2021, 11:03 am

      Ba dump, tsssss

  • Scott Smith February 8, 2019, 3:37 pm

    If you go through the legal process of locking and declaring firearms in your checked baggage and find your flight diverted to NY or NJ refusing to accept your checked baggage would be prudent.

  • Grady Bookout February 8, 2019, 1:29 pm

    Run the numbers. 4239÷249= 17 guns per year per airport. 17÷12=1.4 guns per month per airport. NOT such a big number anymore. That does not even consider the actual number of a passengers passing through TAC check points.

  • Chuck February 8, 2019, 12:04 pm

    This might seem like a stupid question, but how can they claim ’14 percent of firearms in carry on luggage go undetected’? If they weren’t ‘detected’, how can they make up a random number like that? Sounds like they are just trying to pat themselves on the back for a supposed job well done, and no one really knows how effective, or totally defective, the TSA truly is.

  • David in MA February 8, 2019, 8:50 am

    With all the publicity about this, why do people still attempt to do it?
    Are they moles who are checking if airport security is working,
    are they muslims who are exempt from body searches,
    or are they just plain stupid?

    • Kevin McCarthy February 8, 2019, 12:57 pm

      Most are people who carry 24/7 have a small back up pistol that fits perfect into a rear pocket, vest, or is kept in their coat…… they carry so often it’s like carrying a wallet. Some days they might don a shoulder rig but to run to the store the backup is always there. Go put your wallet in your other pocket and notice how weird it feels? That is people who don’t carry very often. Leave your wallet at your desk at work and walk around – notice how panicked you feel being away from home and not having your wallet where it belongs? That is how it is when you carry concealed all the time and forget it. The panic is from thinking you lost it in your travels. 24/7 concealed carriers are so used to grabbing their wallet and carry arm – they do it automatically and are probably thinking of other things. It a natural getting out of the house ritual.

  • Bob February 8, 2019, 6:30 am

    Never carry weapons on carry-on luggage. For checked luggage, as well as the TSA and airline policy, check the state AND local policy of each connecting flight location. For example, Chicago and New York are way stricter.

  • Joseph Burge February 8, 2019, 5:39 am

    I flew down to Florida to visit the family. Leaving NC, declared, no problem. Returning from Florida, hell. Over an hour wait, walk here, walk there, “give me your keys” to inspect your checked firearm without being present? Everyone has their own interpretation of the rules and not all of them make any sense.

    • Rick February 8, 2019, 7:19 pm

      Joseph: I had an unpleasant experience flying home from West Palm. I used one of the mini vaults with a key lock in my suitcase. I was asked to follow a TSA agent who had my suitcase to a room away from the check in desk. I was asked to wait outside, so I did. I had no reason to be suspicious. My suitcase had a TSA lock while I had the key to the mini vault. (That the owner should retain access to the firearm was on the TSA website.) The agent came out and said that all was OK. When I got back to my home around 10PM on a Sunday night, I found that an attempt was made to pry open the mini vault! I had no idea who I should call. I didn’t even think to take photos. I changed my packing procedure after that. That includes checking the case as soon as I get my bag off of the carousel!

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