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What Happens When You Bring a Gun to a Checkpoint? Surprisingly Little

After another record-setting year of guns found at airports, newly uploaded bodycam video shows what happened when one was discovered in La Crosse, Wisconsin.
Despite the fact that firearms are not welcomed at airports, it hasn’t stopped flyers from keeping them in their carry-on luggage – accidentally or otherwise.


Newly uploaded bodycam video from an incident in Wisconsin shows the aftermath of one such incident, where the flyer was able to get away without as much as a citation.


Flyer Forgets About Gun in Carry-On Bag, Allowed to Return it to Wife Without Citation

The incident happened at a Transportation Security Administration Screening Point at La Crosse Regional Airport (LSE) on Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021. Body camera footage from the day was uploaded to the YouTube channel Code Blue Cam.



In the video, a senior TSA official and the airport operations manager met the responding La Crosse Police officer at the airport to explain they found a loaded weapon at the checkpoint. Under TSA policy, the agents could not retrieve the bag in question, and had to wait for the assistance of a sworn law enforcement officer.


The bag and weapon belonged to an unidentified flyer, who was flying to attend a conference as a speaker. In speaking to the passenger, he identified himself as a retired U.S. Army officer and concealed carry permit holder, who forgot the gun was in his bag.


After the weapon was recovered and cleared in a back room, the TSA officer deferred filing criminal charges to the police officer and the City of La Crosse. When he asked about penalties from the Federal Aviation Administration, the TSA agent said they would take the flyer’s information and file a report, which would be later reviewed for civil penalties.


The senior TSA official noted that their only concern was that the gun did not go on the aircraft. The responding officer checked with the watch supervisor, who agreed no charges would be filed based on the man’s demeanor and apologetic nature. The weapon was ultimately returned to his wife, who was waiting on the flyer, and he was allowed to catch his flight to Dallas.


According to a TSA press release, it was the first weapon discovered at the airport during the year. Although the press release noted the TSA could impose civil penalties of up to $13,910 per violation, it is unclear if the flyer faced any fines for the incident.


Under Second Year of Pandemic, TSA Finds Record Number of Guns in Carry-On Bags

Even though air travel demand is recovering slowly, the problem of flyers bringing guns in their carry-on bags remains a major problem. In 2021, the TSA discovered 5,972 guns at checkpoints across the United States, breaking the previous record set in 2019 of 4,239 recovered firearms.

AS MHT April 10, 2022

I cleared TSA three times with my wife's pepper spray in my backpack. She tossed it in there as we were heading back from a weekend road trip. I flew out a day or two later. Got stuck with an overnight connection, and flew home. Found it while packing for the next trip. Sometimes your routine overrides clear thinking.

Galileo787 February 3, 2022

I'm sure careless gun owners would be more responsible if the firearm was permanently confiscated. Not knowing where your firearm is at all times is irresponsible and dangerous to kids that find them. 

neutralist February 2, 2022

IF this person is an non-white person we would have a different outcome.

scottemick February 2, 2022

I've checked my weapon many times with the airlines where it is locked in a hard biometric case which goes inside my checked luggage.  I sometimes carry large amounts of money and I have been robbed in the past and had death threats against me and my family.  So, in case you are asking why, that is why.  I have a concealed handhun license as well.I had a single round lodged in the bottom of my carry on once time which was picked up by TSA in bangor.  They took a picture of it with me and my license.  They cop who was there offered to let me put it in my checked bag, but I told him to keep it.   I am extremely careful at following regulations but I missed that round and of course I had no intent of throwing it at anyone.  I'm personally grateful that no charges were filed and obviously I had no intent of harming anyone.

jcmalcolm February 1, 2022

Some folks love to get spun up whenever they hear the word 'gun.'
Was there criminal intent?
Move along folks, nothing to see here...