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As gun sales climb, TSA sees uptick in firearm confiscation

TSA says 80 percent of all guns found at security checkpoints are loaded, and the number one excuse people give is they forgot they had it with them.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Airports across the country are sitting mostly empty these days due to the pandemic. Despite that, the number of firearms being confiscated by TSA has gone up from a year ago.

Last month alone, TSA officers seized almost 300 guns.

Gun sales have surged in 2020, many of those purchases coming from first-time buyers.


TSA officials say that fact may contribute to the uptick in confiscations as well, as some may not know how to safely and properly bring a gun through an airport.

"The TSA has seen the statistics that are out there about the number of firearms people have been purchasing this year and so that is a contributing factor," TSA's Lisa Farbstein said.

A major reason for the confiscation increase, according to TSA, is that guns were being found in peoples' carry-on bags.

If a gun is found in your stuff when you go through security, you could face a penalty of anywhere from $2050 to $13,000.

TSA says most guns found have been loaded, and the number one excuse people use is they forgot they had it with them.

"80 percent of the guns TSA caught in July were loaded," Farbstein said.  "So people are telling us they forgot they had a loaded gun with them?"

The major TSA requirements for traveling with a firearm are as follows:

  • The firearm can't be loaded
  • The firearm must be packed and locked in a hard-sided case
  • The firearm can only be checked baggage; can not be a carry-on or a personal item
  • You must tell the ticket counter it's a firearm when you check it in

You can find a complete list of how to travel with firearms/ammunition here.

On top of all the regulations in place, TSA also says to check with your airliner to make sure they don't have any restrictions on firearms before you think about packing one.

Other items prohibited from traveling with you are:

  • Knives
  • Fireworks
  • Replica weapons
  • Tools longer than seven inches
  • Anything sharp
  • Anything that could easily be used as a blunt object

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