The Transportation Security Administration has announced an increase to the maximum fine levied for loaded guns being discovered in carry-on luggage. The number of guns discovered in carry-on baggage has been increasing, so the TSA is announcing the fees to curb it, hopefully.
Currently, flying with guns is legal so long as the gun is unloaded, secured in a TSA-approved case, checked, and declared to the airline. The number of air passengers violating firearm transportation laws is increasing, so the TSA is doing something about it.
TSA Penalty For Guns In Carry-On Luggage Near $15,000
The TSA has announced that the maximum fine for guns in carry-on luggage has been increased to $14,950 as of December 30, 2022. The previous maximum fine was $13,910.
The maximum fine is for a repeat offender; a first-time offense carries a maximum penalty is $3,000 to $10,700 per the TSA.
Granted, the increase is a paltry $140, and the maximum fine is very rarely levied…but the number of people incurring the penalty is going up every year. The TSA is explicit that the fine is being increased due to the increased number of people with a gun being discovered in their carry-on luggage.
In 2012, 1,549 firearms were discovered at TSA checkpoints. In 2021, there were 5,972 firearms discovered at checkpoints, and as of December 30, 6,301 had been discovered at TSA checkpoints. Of 2022’s haul of firearms illegally carried in luggage, 88 percent were loaded.
According to Forbes, over $52 million in civil penalties have been assessed for guns illegally carried in carry-on luggage over the past three years.
TSA Fines Can Be The Least Of Your Worries
The TSA fine is just a civil penalty; it doesn’t come with any federal charges. However, it also comes with a criminal referral – meaning the matter is also remanded to local law enforcement – and your gun will be confiscated when discovered.
It is up to the TSA and local law enforcement whether or not to return your gun to you in the case one is discovered in your luggage. It may be confiscated and not returned, depending on the circumstances.
You will also not be eligible for TSA PreCheck for a period to be determined by the TSA.
In addition to the civil penalty, the incident is also remanded to local law enforcement for consideration of criminal charges. One of the most common gun-free zones in state laws is the controlled areas of airports, so while having a gun in your luggage may not be a federal crime, it is almost certainly a crime in your state of residence.
It’s often considered a gross misdemeanor, carrying a penalty of up to 364 days in jail and up to $5,000 in fines depending on what state you live in. Some states are friendlier than others, so residents of New York can expect arrest and charges, but residents of other states may experience more leniency.
However, according to Forbes, there’s some correlation between constitutional carry states and an increased number of guns discovered in luggage.
Fly The Friendly Skies With Your Gun In Checked Baggage
It is absolutely legal to fly with a firearm, so long as it’s in a TSA-approved hard-sided case, checked, and declared with the gun unloaded in the locked case. It is not lawful to possess a firearm, gun parts, or ammunition in the controlled areas of airports.
At some point, it’s incumbent on each of us to be aware of the laws regarding where we can and cannot possess firearms and how we have to transport them.
Some people, as a result, decide to leave their guns at home when they fly. There’s less hassle, and usually, a flight means you’re on vacation…and most vacation destinations are (typically, anyway!) very safe places. It’s worth thinking about not taking it with you unless you have a compelling reason to.