1 in 200,000 Passengers Forgot a Gun in Carry-on

1 in 200,000 Passengers Forgot a Gun in Carry-on
1 in 200,000 Passengers Forgot a Gun in Carry-on

Arizona -(Ammoland.com)- In 2017, 771,556,886 passengers traveled through 440 federally secured airports. Of those, only 3,957 forget that a firearm was in their carry-on baggage.

There are over 400 million private firearms in the United States, 16 million people with permits to carry firearms, and 13 states where no permit is required to carry a concealed weapon.  That less than 4,000 forgot a firearm in their carry-on is amazingly low.

That is one for every 200,000 passengers.

Just a little over 1/3 or 34.8% of the firearms had a round in the chamber. They could not have been accidentally discharged in the luggage.

TSA says 84% were “loaded”, so 50% must have had rounds in the magazine, but not in the chamber.

Most of the firearms found in carry-ons were brought without the intention of doing so. TSA gives this advice:

If you’re grabbing a bag, suitcase, briefcase, jacket or other item you haven’t used in a while, be sure to give it the onceover so you don’t accidentally take something prohibited to the checkpoint. Many people who have brought guns, ammunition, knives and other prohibited item say that they did so unknowingly. You can travel with your firearms in checked baggage, but they must first be declared to the airline. You can go here for more details on how to properly travel with your firearms. Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality. Travelers should familiarize themselves with state and local firearm laws for each point of travel prior to departure.

People make mistakes. They get in a hurry. They grab a jacket or bag on the way to the airport and do not carefully check all the compartments or pockets. I ended up carrying a full box of 50 .22 rimfire cartridges on a flight one year, without any intention of doing so. Noting unusual occurred with that misadventure, except that I left the .50 rounds instead of bringing them back with me.

Many people have remarked how they inadvertently brought a knife or other prohibited item in their carry-on.

As more and more people carry firearms for their personal protection and to exercise their Second Amendment rights, more and more will slip up and unintentionally bring a firearm to the secure area of an airport.

A quick look at the map shows that states that do not honor the exercise of the Second Amendment have few people legally carrying firearms. They do not have the airports with the largest number of people who are inadvertently caught up in the TSA net.

Chicago’s O’hare International Airport, New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport and San Francisco International Airport are conspicuously absent from the top ten shown on the graphic above.

It appears that few people caught in Dallas, Denver, Phoenix, or Miami are prosecuted with heavy jail time or large fines for their momentary lapse of judgment.  Celebrities that are caught up sometimes make the news. The last I recall was former Governor Haley Barbour in on January 2nd of 2018. He ended up a paying a $3,920 fine for a lapse of memory.

The penalty is too high. If the person was otherwise legally carrying the firearm, the lost of time and money on the flight should be enough. At most, a small fine would suffice.Heavy fines and jail time act as a means to chill the exercise of the Second Amendment.

©2018 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.

Link to Gun Watch

About Dean Weingarten:Dean Weingarten

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

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Dave Henrie

Remind Mom and Dad gun owners of their responsibility to their children by posting a sticker at eye level at front door, side door and back door which reads:




That fine is an excellent reminder to never be so negligent again
It is interesting to note that 50% of negligent gun owners favor empty chamber, loaded magazine
“ Israeli style” carry
I get so much hate whenever I comment that I carry empty chamber for the extra safety it gives me
“ you might as well carry a club”, “ you will short stroke racking the slide under stress”, and the ever popular “it takes 2 hands!”
It seems I have a lot of company carrying without a round in the chamber!


Docdur, it’s your life. There are videos showing people failing to rack/load their firearms or fail to switch off the external safeties. So much for that “added” safety. If you are not comfortable with having a loaded firearm, practice. Firearms generally don’t fire themselves, they normally require the trigger to be pulled. If the firearm is holstered, you can’t pull the trigger. As far as why these people didn’t have their firearms with chambered rounds probably has to do with how they were being stored. I don’t know about you, but I doubt you would be carrying CC in a… Read more »


I see this as proof that the TSA is hostile towards American citizens. If they actually cared about people, and not their bureaucratic bullshit, they would have an apparatus in place for the gun owner to either come pick it up on their return flight or mail it to an FFL of their choice. Crimes are based on intent, and if the gun owner just forgot and there was no intent, there was no crime.


If you are that dam irresponsible for not knowing that you have placed a weapon that you are going to take with you on a plane. or other place.You deserve to go to jail or pay the fine. I DONT CARE if you forgot . Maybe you will be more responsible next time dummy


Most of the increase shown in the graph took place under the Obama’s administration, just thinking out loud.

Sam Jones

Most travelers believe that the TSA is a Police Agency. They are not. If they discover a firearm in their screening, they notify the Police who are stationed at the Airport. Legal action is then undertaken by that Agency. For example, DFW (Dallas Ft. Worth) airport has it’s own Airport Police force – including a jail on the airport property. However, the State of Texas Legislature – several years ago – recognized that this “mental error” was just that in the preponderance of cases. So if this error occurs, the offending party is asked if they hold a Texas License… Read more »


Wait a second here. Aren’t our guns supposed to be secured when not in our possession? How do you leave a gun in a bag you haven’t used for years? Don’t you practice to stay current with it? You forgot you had a gun in your pocket. Really? Really! And what good does it do the Governor to have a gun in his briefcase? Is it a quick draw briefcase? When we make excuses for bozos we weaken our position. We don’t want unaware gun owners in our camp even if there are four thousand of them. Sorry but there… Read more »

Heed the Call-up

Joe, I suspect that it is more like what happened to me with my knife. One is accustomed to having it, and not “thinking” about it actively. When I did my check of the hotel room ensuring I hadn’t left anything, I knew my knife was in my pocket because I had just put it there because that is where it always is. I wasn’t thinking about it having to go in my checked bag because I was concentrating on not leaving anything behind at the hotel. I only realized my error once I got to TSA security. However since… Read more »

Heed the Call-up

One other method is to allow the person to go back to the check-in counter and secure the firearm in their checked bag. I had an issue many years ago with my pocket knife. I forgot to put it in my checked bag before leaving the hotel room. I got to security and as I was emptying my pockets found my knife. The TSA agent told me to recall my checked bag and put it in the bag. I then successfully went through the TSA checkpoint. Now before I leave for the airport, I don’t wear a belt and my… Read more »

Michael Twidle

I chalk it up to being a idoit just like the people at the gun range who walk up to the shooting bench with people down range.