TSA agents in Texas found an undeclared anti-tank rifle stowed in checked luggage – but the owner has escaped charges after proving he demilitarized the piece.
The 84MM Carl-Gustaf M4 recoilless rifle was deconstructed and packed in its hard-shell case when discovered during the baggage screening process in San Antonio on Monday.
The owner, who has not been publicly identified, was tracked down by airport security, and explained to them that the weapon he was carting across state borders was in fact just an exhibit item for the SHOT show in Las Vegas, Nevada.
He was able to provide company paperwork that showed the rifle was made unusable – or demilitarized – which was later also confirmed by a TSA explosives expert.
The anti-tank rifle was discovered by TSA agents at San Antonio International Airport in Texas
In a tweet posted by the agency’s account, an image of the weapon, snug in its packing case, was shared, along with instructions on how to legally travel with firearms
Still, TSA officers decided the potentially deadly weapon would not be allowed on the aircraft. A family member of the unidentified owner came to retrieve the rifle, and he was allowed to rebook his departing flight.
The San Antonio Police Department told Dailymail.com that no charges are pending in the case at this time.
Transportation Security Administration rules for transporting firearms
- Declare each firearm each time you present it for transport as checked baggage
- Firearms must be unloaded and locked in a hard-sided container and transported as checked baggage only
- Replica firearms, including firearm replicas that are toys, may be transported in checked baggage only
- When traveling, comply with the laws concerning possession of firearms as they vary by local, state and international governments
- Firearm parts, including magazines, clips, bolts and firing pins, are prohibited in carry-on baggage, but may be transported in checked baggage
‘We don’t see that caliber of weapon very often, thank God,’ TSA spokesperson Patricia Mancha told San Antonio TV station KENS 5.
The TSA confiscated more firearms from airport passengers in 2022 than any other year since the agency’s inception.
Of these 6,542 weapons discovered at airport security checkpoints, 88 percent were loaded.
Confiscations by the TSA in 2022 show a 10 percent rise from the previous year, when a still shocking 5,972 firearms were seized.
San Antonio International was not one of the 10 airports announced by the TSA to have had the largest number of guns confiscated.
However, three of the ten were located in Texas, including Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport; George Bush Intercontinental Airport, Houston; and Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.
Another of the three were Floridian airports.
In response to the rise in attempts to bring undeclared weapons aboard domestic and international flights, the TSA has introduced a range of new penalties.
Passengers caught toting loaded weapons in airports will now face fines starting at $3000, with the maximum civil penalty raised from $13,910 to $14,950 for those with a history of the offence.
TSA is also revoking Precheck eligibility for at least five years for anyone caught with a firearm.
Passengers who wish to avoid these penalties can follow TSA’s proper packing guidance for firearms in checked baggage, and are required to declare them to the airline at check-in as well as show a permit.
Some attempts to smuggle undeclared weapons aboard planes reported this year border on the ridiculous.
One Rhode Island man found himself in a sticky situation in late December after TSA agents caught him trying to stash a deconstructed handgun in two full jars of peanut butter.
TSA agents at JFK’s Terminal 8 found a loaded handgun stashed in two jars of creamy peanut butter in December
Security agents uncovered the loaded .22 caliber gun after the checked bag it was hidden in triggered an alarm in JFK’s Terminal 8.
The offending traveler was tracked down and arrested shortly after.
‘The gun parts were artfully concealed in two smooth creamy jars of peanut butter,’ said John Essig, TSA’s Federal Security Director for JFK Airport, ‘but there was certainly nothing smooth about the way the man went about trying to smuggle his gun.’
In another shockingly brazen attempt to bring a weapon aboard a plane, one passenger attempted to stow their handgun inside a raw chicken.
Upon unwrapping the chicken, agents discovered a handgun wrapped in a plastic bag and stuffed inside of it
In a tweet posted about the incident at Fort Lauderdale Airport in Florida, the agency described their officers making the ‘raw find’ in November.
‘There’s a personal fowl here,’ the tweet read. ‘We hate to break it to you but stuffing a firearm in your holiday bird for travel is just a baste of time.’
Pictures showed the gun wrapped up in a plastic bag and shoved inside the chicken before being unwrapped by agents.
According to the TSA website, passengers are permitted to travel with both fresh and cooked meat, which may explain why the passenger chose this method of smuggling.