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TSA intercepts gun at Des Moines International Airport


DES MOINES – Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers prevented a handgun from making its way onboard an airplane at Des Moines International Airport (DSM) Friday.

This is the second firearm detected at a DSM checkpoint this year. The prior incident occurred Jan. 15. Seven firearms were detected at DSM security checkpoints in total last year.

During the routine screening of carry-on luggage, a TSA officer spotted the image of a handgun on the X-ray screen. The incident occurred around 6 a.m., and TSA officials immediately alerted the Des Moines Police Department. A law enforcement officer responded, confiscated the firearm, and issued a citation. The firearm was loaded with the safety engaged.

This handgun was detected by TSA officers in a passenger’s carry-on bag at Des Moines International Airport (DSM) on Jan. 26. (TSA photo)

“Passengers are allowed to travel with their firearms and ammunition as long as they follow the proper procedures,” Iowa TSA Federal Security Director John Bright said. “Responsible firearm owners always know where their guns are, and they should never bring them to the security checkpoint in carry-on luggage.”

Nationally, more than 6,700 firearms were stopped at airport checkpoints in 2023.

In addition to any action taken by law enforcement, TSA fines passengers who bring a firearm to a TSA checkpoint with a civil penalty up to approximately $15,000, revokes TSA PreCheck® eligibility for at least five years and may conduct enhanced screening to ensure there are no other threats present.

Passengers are permitted to travel with firearms in checked baggage if they are unloaded, packed separately from ammunition in a locked hard-sided case and declared at the airline check-in counter. Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality. Travelers should check for firearm laws in the jurisdictions they are flying to and from.

TSA has details on how to properly travel with a firearm posted on its website. Travelers should also contact their airline as they may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition.

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