Pistols and Ammunition Discovered by the TSA in One Week

84 Pistols Discovered by the TSA in One Week
84 Pistols Discovered by the TSA in One Week

Arizona-(Ammoland.com)- The collage of pistols discovered by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is a small sample of the 84 pistols discovered in carry-on luggage the week of May 7th to May 13th, 2018.

TSA writes the total number of pistols discovered was 84, with 75 holding ammunition, and 29 of those having a round in the chamber. From tsa.gov:

TSA discovered 84 firearms in carry-on bags around the nation last week. Of the 84 firearms discovered, 75 were loaded and 29 had a round chambered. Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality. TSA may impose civil penalties of up to $13,066 per violation per person for prohibited items violations and violations of other TSA regulations. Repeat violations will result in higher penalties. Travelers should familiarize themselves with state and local firearm laws for each point of travel prior to departure. You can go here for more details on how to properly travel with your firearms in checked baggage.

Details of the pistols discovered in carry-on bags (not checked bags) are listed at the TSA page. Most of the pistols have caliber and make noted. As with all data collection, the data has some errors.  For example, the data includes a Hi-Point model 22A that had rounds in the magazine, but none in the chamber. The pistol is listed as .22 caliber. I do not believe Hi-Point makes a .22 caliber pistol. Phoenix makes an HP-22A that is chambered for .22 Long Rifle cartridges. Was the pistol a Phoenix HP-22A that a TSA agent mis-labeled a Hi-Point? Maybe. There is a Beretta .38 listed. I do not recall a Beretta .38 being made. Maybe it is  a .380, and  someone forgot the zero.

In spite of the inevitable errors, a fair amount can be learned from the pistols that were found.

Of the 84 pistols, 78 had make and caliber identified. Assuming the caliber of the 22A was .22 Long Rifle, and the Beretta  was a .380, the caliber breakdown was this:

25-.380 caliber; 23-9mm (probably 9X19, or 9mm Luger); 11-.40 caliber; 5-.38 (probably revolvers), 5-.22 rimfires; 3-.357 (revolvers); 2-.45 caliber, 2-.32 caliber (one a Colt revolver) and 2-.25 caliber pistols (both Ravens!).

Most people discovered carrying pistols in their carry-on luggage had chosen good quality guns. There were 19 Glocks, 17 Rugers, 15 Smith & Wessons, 5 Taurus, 4 Sig Sauer, 3 Kel-Tecs, a couple of Kimbers and Springfields, a Walther, and a Colt. There was a smattering of inexpensive pistols such as Bryco, Raven, a Cobra .22 Derringer and the possible Phoenix. Those were only five of the total.

One of the .22 pistols was a North American Arms mini-revolver.

Almost all of the pistols were simply forgotten. People get busy. A family member puts a pistol back in Mom's purse. A busy executive's intention to take the pistol out is thwarted when a minor emergency interrupts the thought process at a critical point.

None of us is perfect. With over 770 million passengers being checked through TSA checkpoints last year, less than 4,000 forgot or misplaced a pistol in their carry-on.

I once carried a full box of .22 ammunition in my computer case, to a conference. When I discovered it, it did not make the return trip.  Do things often enough, and mistakes will be made.

It has been reported that in undercover tests of the TSA system, weapons or explosives were missed over 90% of the time.

That rate likely does not apply to people who made mistakes. They were not attempting to sneak items through the system.

To put the figures in perspective, only about 1 in 192,000 people make this error in a given year. It is as if one person went through the system each day for 500 years, and only screwed up once.

Everyone makes mistakes.

©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.

  • 15 thoughts on “Pistols and Ammunition Discovered by the TSA in One Week

    1. Possibly the 22-A was a Smith & Wesson semi auto in 22lr? I use one for rimfire challenge competition.
      Apparently TSA also prohibits the carrying of “gun parts” in carry-on luggage.
      I traveled to PA for a wedding and while killing time before the wedding I stopped in a local gun store and found and bought a spare magazine for one of my pistols. It was in the mfgr’s packaging and I had the sales receipt.
      I threw it in my carry-on as it was my only baggage.
      I was stopped by TSA when going through security and told I could not take the new/ empty magazine abord.
      They were decent guys though and allowed me to get a mailer at an airport shop and mail it to myself instead of confiscating it.
      Traveler’s beware as TSA agents tend to apply their own interpretation of the rules!

    2. My DAD getting up in age was always a hunter and he was flying to LALA land to see his sister and he got caught with 2 twelve gauge shot shells in his pocket this was before 9/11 so they took them and let us through to his plane I had a key chain that i made from a 45 ACP dummy cartridge ( no primer and holes drilled through the case) security took that ,it makes you wonder

    3. The interesting fact here is that 29 out of a total of 75 irresponsible gun owners carry “Israeli Style” with a loaded magazine and empty chamber.
      29 divided by 79 times 100 is 39%
      So 39% carry empty chamber
      Is this a representative cross section of American gun owners?
      I get a lot of hate whenever I post that I carry Israeli style
      It seems that a lot of other American gun owners agree with me

      1. NOT ME; I have BETTER SENSE than to carry with an empty chamber.
        Tell you what, meet me at a gun range and we will stand side by side Semi-automatic pistols in hand and each with a target down range. You with an empty chamber and me with a round in the chamber. At a signal we will both fire at our target and SEE who gets the first round off. I bet I can Double tap before you get the first shot off.

      2. Docduracoat, might it also be that since they weren’t carrying it, they didn’t chamber a round? If you were a lemming, would you follow those same 39% off the cliff or see the fallacy in their descent?

        Police have a round chambered, too. Might not be for a good reason? If you were being assaulted, would you be able to chamber a round as quickly and easily one-handed as two-handed? I know I can’t. I haven’t read any self-defense articles that suggest carrying empty chamber. If you are not comfortable carrying a loaded firearm, why carry?

    4. For me, this proves that our government is hostile to its citizens. After establishing intent, and if there was no malice intended, a friendly government would allow the citizen to pick up their weapon on return, or allow them to send it to an FFL of their choice, of course paying for the shipping. Instead, they punish the errant citizen and confiscate their property.

    5. Not a gun but an 8 inch Chef’s cutting knife. Given to me in NYC. Put it into my carry on bag. Flew home to Florida. Then flew to Houston, then to Seattle and back to Houston and on to Shreveport, LA. When going thru TSA there to return home, I was popped (after 5 previous TSA passes). I had completely forgotten about the whole time. They took me into a small interrogation room to question me. They were very polite. Finally they let me go with a warning. I even made my flight, none the wiser.

      1. In general I agree with you but but if you always carry for many years it becomes a part of you. I think we should go very easy on good citizens who make an honest mistake.

    6. This happened to me about 5 years ago. I hadn’t had a pistol, but had a full box of .380 range ammo I had forgotten was in my backpack. I was flying from Minneapolis to NYC. I had been the day before to the range (Bill’s is the most “famous” range there and where most cops go to shoot- and that becomes important here). The boa was unopened and was blazer brass round nose (not hollow point and that’s also important to my case). Anyway, as I was going through security, the agent asked “is there anything in my backpack that shouldn’t be”, as the bad passed through X-ray. I answered no. He proceeded to pull out the box of ammo I had forgotten was in there. I got sick to my stomach. And really scared too. He called over the Minneapolis police. I showed them my permit to carry. I had also forgotten my ear and eye pro in the bag and had my receipt from the range from the previous day. The police were familiar with the range and realized I’d made an honest mistake. They saw the range supplies, the range ammo and the receipt. The cop apologized as he had to confiscate the ammo. Then he directed me to the TSA desk about 20 feet away, where the lady asked for my ID, copied the info down and let me go on my way. The whole process from X-ray to being allowed to proceed took less than 15 minutes. About 2 weeks later I received a letter from the Dept of Justice or treasury, I forget. It was civil charges for carrying prohibited items through security. I forget what the fine was, less than $200 I think. I had the option of fighting it in court or paying the fine. I sent out that check ASAP. After that I’ve never heard a peep from them. And since, I was afraid I’d be flagged every time I went to the airport. My wife was less than happy. But I’ve never been subjected to additional questions or scrutiny, either. Anyway, it’s a mistake I’ll never make again.

      1. CK, would it be logical to risk a huge fine knowing that the TSA specifically screens for firearms? Also the smattering of news reports that interviewed some of these people makes it clear they were not prohibited persons or otherwise intent on committing crime, since they were not arrested on any such related charges. And if the TSA finally found a terrorist, you know they squawk loudly to let us know all about it.

          1. SCL, statistics, cc holders are the most law-abiding, 6 times more so than LE, who are 10 times more so than the general public, and the fact, as I stated previously, they were not arrested for any crime other than having a firearm in a carry-on.

            I, a number of years ago, forgot to put my pocket knife in my checked bag on my return trip. I was allowed to recall my checked bag. Did I do that intentionally? Of course not.

            I did my room check before leaving the hotel room, and as I normally do, put my knife in my pocket. When I got to the security screening, I put my hand in my pocket and discovered my knife. I immediately informed the TSA agent who just said go back and recall my checked bag. Why can’t they do the same for firearms? The airlines could make even more money providing lock boxes, though with the same number of firearms found, it probably wouldn’t be enough profit for them.

            Since then I do not put anything in my pockets when leaving for the airport, and I even put my belt and cell phone in my carry-on.

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