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.
About 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.