November 20th, 2023
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Handguns in Carry-Ons — Don’t Make This Mistake
Thanksgiving is just three days away. We know many of our readers will be traveling by air this week, and during the Christmas holidays. This article reminds folks who travel to alwasy comply 100% with rules. Don’t make an oversight that can land you in jail.
Handgun Transport During Flights — How to Do It Properly
It IS legal to take a handgun on an airline flight in checked baggage (if you follow the rules). But for goodness sake — declare the weapon as required by law and comply with all TSA and Federal regulations. Do NOT just toss your pistol in your carry-on and expect to board the plane. About 4,000 pistols were discovered in carry-on luggage in 2017. That can result in seizure and confiscation of the weapon, and just might land you in jail!
Gun writer Dean Weingarten has written an excellent article about handgun seizures at airports. Remarkably, in a single week a few years ago, 97 handguns were found in carry-on bags at U.S. airports.
Handguns in Carry-On Baggage
Report by Dean Weingarten, ©2018 by Dean Weingarten, GunWatch Blog
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.
9mm pistols were still the most common, with 36 represented. .380 pistols, known in Europe as 9X17, 9mm Kurtz, or 9mm 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 eight .40 caliber pistols, seven .22 LR rimfire, six .45 caliber, five .32 caliber, four .38 caliber, one .410, and one .22 magnum.
Most of the pistols were semi-autos, there were a few revolvers, and three derringers.
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.
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 [but then is distracted] and he has to rush to make his flight. The pistol remains in the briefcase and is discovered by the TSA.
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.
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[.]
Some [handgun violations] 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 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.
Tags: Airline Travel, airport security, Carry-On Luggage, Handgun Transport, TSA