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TSA stops loaded 'assault rifle' in carry-on bag of New Orleans flight to Houston

A 52-year-old Louisiana man, who also had 163 rounds of ammunition in five magazines, now faces a fine that could be as high as $15,000.

NEW ORLEANS — A passenger headed from New Orleans to Houston faces a hefty fine after TSA agents found a loaded "assault rifle" and 163 rounds of ammunition in his carry-on bag. 

The 52-year-old man from Jefferson, La., now faces a fine that could be as high as $15,000, according to the Transportation Security Administration.

The agency said the Palmetto PA-15 Multi AR firearm loaded with 30 rounds and five additional loaded magazines were seized on Valentine's Day.  

A Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s deputy on duty at the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport confiscated the weapon.

“Passengers need to focus on what is inside their carry-ons before entering our checkpoint," TSA Federal Security Director Arden Hudson said. "The introduction of a loaded weapon poses an unnecessary risk to both the traveling public and our employees.”

In 2022, TSA officers confiscated a record number of firearms from airport passengers and 88% of the 6,542 weapons were loaded, the agency said.

“If you are going to travel with your gun it must be in your checked bag, but be sure you know exactly what the gun laws are on each side of your trip,” Hudson warned. “Guns may not be legal to transport even in checked baggage in some jurisdictions.”

Top 10 airports for firearms seized in 2022

Bush International Airport in Houston was third on the list for most weapons confiscated with 298, according to TSA. Only Atlanta and DFW had more firearms seized last year.

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport ranked 8th. 

  • Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport: 448
  • Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport: 385
  • George Bush Intercontinental Airport, Houston: 298
  • Nashville International Airport: 213
  • Sky Harbor International Airport, Phoenix: 196
  • Orlando International Airport: 162
  • Denver International Airport: 156
  • Austin-Bergstrom International Airport: 150
  • Fort Lauderdale Airport 134
  • Tampa International Airport: 131

Houston Hobby Airport, where 125 guns were seized, didn't make the top 10 list.

Texas airports accounted for 20% of all firearms found in carry-on luggage last year. 

Rules for firearms on planes

  • Even unloaded guns aren't allowed on carry-ons. 
  • Firearms must be in checked baggage. 
  • All firearms must be properly packed, which means unloaded and in a locked, hard-sided case. 
  • They must tell the airline at check-in that you have a gun in your bag.


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