TSA Pistols Discovered in Carry-ons 28 May-June 3rd 2018

TSA Pistols Discovered in Carry-ons 28 May-June 3rd 2018
TSA Pistols Discovered in Carry-ons 28 May-June 3rd 2018

Arizona -(Ammoland.com)- During the week of 28 May to June 3rd, 2018, the TSA discovered 97 pistols in carry-ons at airports where security is controlled by the TSA. The collage of pistols shown above is a sample of those found.

TSA gives a list of the pistols found. The list shows the make, model and caliber of most of the pistols. There were 93 pistols where the caliber was identified.

9 mm pistols were still the most common, with 36 represented. .380 pistols, known in Europe as 9X17, 9 mm Kurtz, or 9 mm Corto,  were the next represented, with 24 present. That is 70 pistols, or 75% of the pistols found. There were a smattering of other calibers. There were 8 .40 caliber pistols, 7 .22 LR rimfire, 6 .45 caliber, 5 .32 caliber, 4 .38 caliber, 1 .410, and 1 .22 magnum.

Most of the pistols were semi-autos, there were a few revolvers, and three derringers.

My vote for the most unusual goes to the Taurus Judge discovered at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL). The Judge has been a tremendous success. It shoots both .410 shotshells and .45 Colt cartridges interchangeably. With about two million people with concealed carry permits in Florida, it is not unusual that an occasion traveler makes a mistake, and walks into the security screening with a forgotten pistol.

How does this happen? It is the principle of rare occurrences. While an event may be extremely rare for each individual, if enough individuals are involved, the occurrence of rare events becomes a statistical certainty. About 4,000 pistols were discovered in carry-on luggage in 2017. There were about 770 million travelers passing through TSA checkpoints in that year. That is one pistol found for about 194,000 passengers. Each passenger presumably went through TSA checkpoints at least twice, once going, once returning. Some passengers go through multiple checkpoints, depending on the route taken.

Let us use the 194,000 figure for simplicity. A person would have to go on a trip every day for 531 years, and only miss a pistol in their luggage *once* to match that percentage.

I believe it happens in ways most people do not consider, because they are *rare*. One way is to be distracted at a critical moment. Perhaps a business owner has made the decision to move a pistol from his briefcase to his locked desk. A child runs into the room and screams the family dog is in a fight in the front yard!

The business owner responds, but his mind has already registered the placement of the pistol in the desk. The minor emergency is taken care of, but he has to rush to make his flight. The pistol remains in the briefcase and is discovered by the TSA.

Sound weird? It only has to happen once in 531 years of taking a trip every day.

The quality of the pistols found suggest most were taken from people who can legally carry them in most places. There are over 17 million people with carry permits in the United States. There are 13 states where no carry permit is required.

No one is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. It is part of the human condition. I learned long ago to know that I have limitations and am not perfect. Some people come close, but no one is.

Another rare scenario is for a third party to put the pistol in the carry-on without the carrier knowing about it. In at least one case, this was done to a school student, maliciously. In that case, it was put in a teens’ backpack, and an anonymous tip made to a school. It probably happens most often without malicious intent.

Some occur because the traveler borrowed a piece of carry-on luggage, and missed a small pistol tucked into a dark recess of the luggage, where another family member kept it.

I wrote about how I carried a full box of .22 ammunition on a flight without intending to. Fortunately, it was not detected by the TSA before I found it. Many have taken guns and knives without being discovered.

I suspect that most pistols are discovered precisely because the carriers are not attempting to smuggle them.

Most of these errors are recognized as honest mistakes by the TSA. The TSA is not the end of the legal problems for a person who finds themselves in this situation. The biggest players are the states.  How the situation is handled depends on where the situation occurs.

When traveling, check your carry-on twice. If you discover you have made a mistake, correct it.

©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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sam jones

As the author states, different States have different statutes. In the State of Texas, if an LTC permit holder makes this mistake, the TSA verifies that the subject has the LTC, and will then allow the person to return to their vehicle and stow the firearm. No harm – No foul.
God Bless Texas
LTC Instructor


I thought twice about posting this and then finally realized I just don’t care anymore. TSA can’t protect you, they aren’t even armed. Personnel on the aircraft can’t protect you because they’re not armed. Who does that leave? The same person it’s always come down to, the individual. When I fly I always carry a knife with a 3 1/2” blade. I’ve discovered a way that makes it impossible for TSA to see it when it goes through with your wallet, belt, keys etc. I’ve been doing this for the past ten years without incident. Am I breaking the law,… Read more »

Heed the Call-up

Bearmed, the big difference between your knife and a firearm is that at worst the TSA will find the knife and confiscate it, whereas the handgun will result in huge fines and possible arrest depending on what state or country you are in when it’s discovered. My wife had a small pocket knife in her pocketbook for years before TSA finally found it. She actually forgot she even had it there. For me, I forgot to put my pocket knife in my checked bag. I discovered my error when I put my hands in my pockets when I got to… Read more »


Guns must be stored in a locked box inside your checked bag and declared, so unless you remembered to bring a locked box you can’t just put your gun in a checked bag. In many states like Tennessee you will have broken the law if you have a gun on your person when you walk into the airport even if you are not going into a secure area.

Heed the Call-up

Brian, my first paragraph addressed the issue of legality depending on where you are, and my last paragraph of my post addressed the issue of a locked case.

John Galt

Why do my comments NEVER APPEAR??????

John Galt

In kalifornia…….friend of mine “forgot” a glock in his backpack The catch is that in kalifornia carrying concealed, unlicensed is a $589 fine. However, when my friend went through TSA in Santa Clara County kalifornia the county refused to accept the fine as a settlement without a trial and full ajudication……translate that to $10k + in attorney fees for an offense that results in a $589 fine. ADDITIONALLY, TSA sent him a letter offering to sue him civilly for $3900 if he did not pay a $1900 penalty within 30 days of the notice (and before his “trial”). Wondering how… Read more »