Des Moines International Airport photo

The busy Spring Break travel season is just getting underway, and Iowans who want to fly someplace warm — and take along a firearm — are being reminded there’s a right way and a wrong way to go about it. Hint: The wrong way could cost you a lot of money and may very well ruin your vacation plans.

Transportation Security Administration spokesman Mark Howell says guns on planes are fine, but they must be checked with baggage.

Howell says, “TSA has no issue with passengers that want to take a firearm with them when they travel, as long as they pack it the right way and that they declared to the airline that they’re flying with — two important steps.”

Gun seizure numbers were up at several of Iowa’s largest airports last year, while the TSA confiscated more than 65-hundred firearms from boarding passengers nationwide, a new record. Howell is reminding Iowans who want to bring a firearm on board to make sure they follow the proper procedures.

“The firearm needs to be completely unloaded with any ammunition stored separately inside the box, and then you need to secure that box with any place that has a lock on it, make sure that it’s completely secure,” Howell says, “and you take that directly to the airline’s ticket counter when you go to check in.”

Howell says the penalty for boarding with a weapon can reach nearly $15,000, depending on the circumstances.

The TSA says 22 guns were found at Iowa airport security checkpoints during 2022, an increase from the 14 guns found in 2021. Fifteen guns were found at the Des Moines Airport, up six from the previous year. Six guns were found at the Eastern Iowa Airport in Cedar Rapids, and one in Waterloo, which was an increase of one gun for each airport.

Radio Iowa