Home Travel What Happens When A Passenger Is Caught With A Gun At An Airport

What Happens When A Passenger Is Caught With A Gun At An Airport

by SharonKurheg

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has specific rules and regulations when it comes to transporting firearms on planes. Their website says, “Passengers are permitted to travel with firearms in checked baggage if they are unloaded, packed in a hard-side case, locked, and packed separately from ammunition. Ammunition must be in its original box and can be packed inside the hard-side case, next to the firearm. Even if the box of ammunition is not full, the bullets must be in their original case. Then the case with the firearm should be brought to the airline check-in counter and the airline representative is informed that the passenger wants to travel with the gun. Firearms are transported inside checked baggage and are placed in the belly of the aircraft so that nobody has access to them during the flight.”

TSA has details on how to properly travel with a firearm posted on its website. Unfortunately, some of the flying public either doesn’t know or care. In 2021 alone, TSA officers detected 5,972 firearms in carry-on and personal bags at U.S.-based airport security checkpoints. That’s nearly 17 per day. In 2020, there were “only” 3,257 firearms discovered, but that was an “off” year due to the pandemic. Still, in 2019, the last pre-pandemic year, there were 4,432 detected. In fact, in every year since 2008, more and more firearms have been discovered at TSA security checkpoints.

Individuals who bring weapons to a checkpoint are subject to federal civil penalties of up to $13,900. The complete list of penalties is posted online. In addition to civil penalties, individuals who violate rules regarding traveling with firearms can potentially have their Trusted Traveler status and TSA PreCheck® expedited screening benefits revoked for a period of time.

We’ve already posted a few instances regarding what happened “behind the scenes” in situations around travel-related facilities:

So what DOES happen “behind the scenes” if someone is caught with a gun in their carry-on? And what about when someone is found to have a gun in their bag, but it appears to be a genuine mistake?

That’s exactly what happened in October 2021, when a passenger scheduled to fly out of La Crosse Regional Airport (LSE) was discovered to have a loaded handgun in his backpack when it went through X-ray. Here are the details of what happened to him, as it was happening (yay, police body cams!), and an explanation of the different ways it can be handled by the TSA, depending on individual circumstances.

It was a happy ending for “Mr. Passenger.” Each situation is, of course, different. Sometimes very different (*cough* THIS GUY *cough*). But it’s still interesting to have a behind-the-scenes view of what “could” happen if you’re caught with a gun at the TSA checkpoint.

Feature Image: Amazon.com

Want to comment on this post? Great! Read this first to help ensure it gets approved.
Want to sponsor a post, write something for Your Mileage May Vary, or put ads on our site? Click here for more info.

Like this post? Please share it! We have plenty more just like it and would love it if you decided to hang around and sign up to get emailed notifications of when we post.

Whether you’ve read our articles before or this is the first time you’re stopping by, we’re really glad you’re here and hope you come back to visit again!

This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


Christian August 14, 2022 - 10:29 pm

The video is both interesting and a bit disturbing. Interesting because we get to see the nuts and bolts of the process, disturbing because since there are usually no repercussions for someone carrying an instrument of death on the plane this will just continue at least until there’s a horrific episode. Considering that the TSA doesn’t even catch most firearms it becomes all the more important to have sufficiently harsh penalties – in conjunction with improved signage – that no sane person would try to bring a gun on a flight. A decade on the No-Fly list and a minimum of 6 months in prison for a first time offense would guarantee a precipitous drop in episodes. Sorry about the soapbox but people being waved on after “forgetting” their gun is a pet peeve of mine.

derek August 15, 2022 - 1:24 pm

I disagree. However, there is a possibility of a double standard. Those who are rude get punished. Those who are not rude but Black or Asian get punishment. I would favor a moderate fine for this man in the video as compensation for the time and effort of the law enforcement officers involved, not prison. If there is clearly no intent, then perhaps a fine of $500 to $5000, possibly $1500.

SharonKurheg August 15, 2022 - 1:47 pm

I agree there’s most definitely a double standard for certain circumstances, certain nationalities, certain skin colors, etc. I vaguely alluded to that with mentioning that each situation is different. Honestly, it would be its own post, and more of a sociology one than a travel one.

Christian August 15, 2022 - 9:49 pm

Madison Cawthorn “forgot” that he had a loaded gun at least twice while trying to sneak it in with his wheelchair but because he was a member of congress he had no repercussions. Feel free to explain to me why you think he shouldn’t be on a lifetime No-Fly list at an absolute minimum.

Mike R August 15, 2022 - 1:31 am

@christian a “forgotten” gun on a plane isn’t going to hurt anyone – these aren’t bad actors trying to smuggle guns, they’re irresponsible folks who didn’t verify their guns were locked up before they left.

Christian August 15, 2022 - 9:55 pm

How exactly do you plan on differentiating between some idiot who may or may not shoot people for whatever reason and someone incapable of remembering whether they included an instrument of murder in their carryon?

DaninMCI August 15, 2022 - 6:00 am

What about when you get caught with “dangerous” bottles of water? Asking for a friend.

Christian August 15, 2022 - 10:01 pm

If you can commit mass murder through combat on a flight with only a water bottle, John Wick needs to step aside for you. For us normal humans, it’s more of an unknown liquid situation. You may agree or disagree with the situation but that’s the logic. That was personally lots of fun when I tried to bring moonshine onto a flight some years ago. The TSA officer asked if it was moonshine. I shrugged. Then he said that flammable liquids were not permitted. I told him (honestly) that I had checked and the liquid wasn’t flammable. He took it anyway.

joeheg August 15, 2022 - 11:45 pm

Waiting to see John Wick 4 for the fight on a plane with only an empty water bottle. We all know what he can do with a pencil.


Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: