Good Question: What happens to confiscated items at TSA checkpoints?

Good Question: What happens to confiscated items at TSA checkpoints?

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ROCHESTER N.Y. — Last year, TSA told News10NBC agents found four firearms in carry-on bags at the Rochester airport. So what happens with the firearms, and other prohibited items, when TSA finds them?

News10NBC’s Emily Putnam has that answer.

Here’s a recent example – a loaded handgun found in the carry-on bag of a man from Honeoye Falls on January 9. TSA found the gun, but it wasn’t TSA that confiscated it. It was the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office.

Emily was told by TSA they do not confiscate items. If TSA agents find a prohibited item, the traveler has a couple of choices:

  • They can put it in their checked luggage
  • They can put it back in their car if it’s parked nearby
  • If someone dropped them off at the airport, they can give it to that person
  • In some airports, they can mail the item back home or to their destination
  • They can voluntarily surrender it to TSA

If they choose to surrender it, it goes to the state for disposal.  

TSA says, “Most states sell the items at a surplus shop and they keep the profit. TSA makes no profit.”

TSA also tells Emily the penalty for trying to carry a firearm through a check-point can be up to $15,000. Just a reminder – firearms can only be carried in checked bags, and they have to be declared at the check-in counter.

If you have a Good Question you’d like answered, send Emily an email at