The TSA published a picture of discovered firearms during the first week of February and the count came to 56 (!!) guns of which 51 were actually loaded.
Many of these were confiscated in states where ‘concealed carry’ is actually legal but of course it’s not allowed to carry them on the airplane.
In most cases people likely forgot they had them in their bag and for sure there are other instances where people are just completely ignorant of the general rules and regulations.
It is actually possible to carry your firearm with you on the plane but it has to be checked in and you have to file paperwork for it.
You can access the TSA Blog here where more information about this matter is relayed.
… When packed properly, ammunition can be transported in your checked baggage, but it is never permissible to pack ammo in your carry-on bag. You can travel with your firearms in checked baggage, but they must first be declared to the airline.
Unfortunately these sorts of occurrences are all too frequent which is why we talk about these finds. Sure, it’s great to share the things that our officers are finding, but at the same time, each time we find a dangerous item, the line is slowed down and a passenger that likely had no ill intent ends up with a citation or in some cases is even arrested.
The passenger can face a penalty as high as $11,000. This is a friendly reminder to please leave these items at home. Just because we find a prohibited item on an individual does not mean they had bad intentions; that’s for the law enforcement officer to decide. In many cases, people simply forgot they had these items.
You can see the entire list sorted by airport:
The TSA also has a separate website (see here) that explains how to travel with your firearm properly and within the law.
You may transport unloaded firearms in a locked hard-sided container as checked baggage only. Declare the firearm and/or ammunition to the airline when checking your bag at the ticket counter. The container must completely secure the firearm from being accessed. Locked cases that can be easily opened are not permitted. Be aware that the container the firearm was in when purchased may not adequately secure the firearm when it is transported in checked baggage.
[U.S.C., Title 18, Part 1, Chapter 44, firearm definitions includes: any weapon (including a starter gun) which will, or is designed to, or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive; the frame or receiver of any such weapon; any firearm muffler or firearm silencer; and any destructive device. As defined by 49 CFR 1540.5 a loaded firearm has a live round of ammunition, or any component thereof, in the chamber or cylinder or in a magazine inserted in the firearm.]
There are many legitimate reasons why someone would travel with a firearm including hunting, training and as can seen above even a starter gun is considered a firearm.
Funny anecdote, a while back I remember reading another blog where somebody said if you ever want the airline to keep your luggage close to you and not lose it then put a starter gun in your bag and declare it.
There is simply no excuse for people of taking a loaded firearm on board an aircraft and I certainly hope these cases are being prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
Besides the fact that these items as listed were found I wonder how many are actually not detected and slide through the security checkpoints.