This handgun was detected by TSA officers in a passenger’s carry-on bag at Gerald R. Ford International Airport on November 1. (TSA)

Weekly Update: TSA Firearm Detections

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is advising travelers to unpack before they repack to ensure they have not left a firearm in their carry-on baggage. The most common reason TSA officers come across when stopping firearms at the checkpoint is “I forgot it was there”.

In recent months, many travelers have driven instead of flying to locations and they may have left their gun or other prohibited items in their suitcase, purse, backpack or computer bag, which they then try to board a flight with. So unpacking before repacking will eliminate any missed items that are not accepted when boarding a plane.

On October 26, TSA officers caught an Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, man with a 9mm handgun loaded with two bullets at the Pittsburgh International Airport security checkpoint. A TSA officer spotted the handgun on the checkpoint X-ray machine’s monitor. TSA immediately alerted the Allegheny County Police, which responded to the checkpoint, confiscated the weapon and questioned the man, a resident of Bethel Park, Pennsylvania. The man claimed that he forgot that he had his loaded gun with him. He is facing stiff federal civil penalties.

The next day, TSA officers stopped a man from carrying a .40 caliber handgun and a magazine loaded with 13 bullets onto an airplane at Detroit Metropolitan Airport. At approximately 7:30 a.m., a TSA officer detected the gun in the local man’s carry-on bag. TSA officials immediately alerted the Wayne County Airport Police, who responded and removed the passenger and weapon away from the checkpoint.

Also on October 27, TSA officers at Des Moines International Airport caught a local resident with a .380 caliber handgun loaded with four bullets, including one in the chamber. 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. This man also told officials that he forgot that he had his loaded gun with him.

On October 28, TSA officers stopped a woman from carrying a loaded .22 caliber handgun and a magazine with nine bullets onto an airplane at Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport. At approximately 6:15 a.m., a TSA officer detected the gun in the local woman’s purse. TSA officials immediately alerted the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Department and a deputy responded who removed the passenger and weapon away from the checkpoint.

And TSA officers caught the 17th gun of the year at a Richmond International Airport security checkpoint on November 1, which exceeds the number of guns detected in 2019 with two months remaining in the year and with about 60% fewer travelers since the start of the pandemic. The man, a resident of Toano, Virginia, in James City County, was caught at the airport checkpoint with a .45 caliber handgun loaded with six bullets, including one in the chamber. He also had an additional loose bullet in his carry-on bag. The airport police were alerted by TSA, responded to the checkpoint, confiscated the gun and cited the man on weapons charges.

The same day, TSA officers at Gerald R. Ford International Airport stopped a man from carrying a loaded 9mm handgun and a magazine with 10 bullets onto an airplane. The gun was detected the gun in the local man’s carry-on bag. TSA officials immediately alerted the Gerald R. Ford International Airport Police and an officer responded who took possession of the weapon and escorted the passenger and weapon away from the checkpoint.

Read TSA’s guidance on traveling with firearms

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Kylie Bielby has more than 20 years' experience in reporting and editing a wide range of security topics, covering geopolitical and policy analysis to international and country-specific trends and events. Before joining GTSC's Homeland Security Today staff, she was an editor and contributor for Jane's, and a columnist and managing editor for security and counter-terror publications.

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