I can’t say I understand the American infatuation with guns and ammunition but what I do understand is the toll it has taken and continues to take on our country. And while there may be plenty of responsible, law-abiding gun owners, there are also plenty who are not. And carelessness with guns or ammunition of any kind is an obvious problem. RELATED: TSA requirements for traveling with a gun

Turks and Caicos airport.According to the TSA, their officers intercepted a total of 6,737 firearms at airport security checkpoints in the United States in 2023. This is higher than the previous year’s record of 6,542 and was the highest one-year total in TSA’s history. Approximately 93% of the 2023 firearms were loaded.

Most Americans who are caught in the U.S. with firearms end up getting arrested but often have the charges dropped or get a slap on the wrist. But this is not the case in many other countries so taking a gun or ammunition to a foreign country can cost you. Big time.

Unfortunately for Ryan Watson, he’s learning this tough lesson the hard way. According to CBS News, “Valerie Watson returned to Oklahoma City’s Will Rogers World Airport in tears on Tuesday morning in a drastic departure from how she imagined her long weekend trip to Turks and Caicos would end.”

That’s because her husband is “in jail on the island and facing a potential mandatory minimum sentence of 12 years behind bars after airport security allegedly found four rounds of hunting ammo in his carry-on bag earlier this month.”

Valerie told CBS’ Kris Van Cleave that her trip “went from what was supposed to be a dream vacation to a nightmare.” Unfortunately for them, Turks and Caicos has recently changed their laws for tourists apprehended with a gun or ammunition in their luggage. Previously, travelers would have to pay a fine but in February, a court order “mandated that even tourists in the process of leaving the country are subject to prison time.”

It’s an unfathomable situation but also a cautionary tale for travelers. I’m haunted by these words Ryan spoke: “I can’t even begin to think that this very innocent, regrettable mistake would prevent me from being able to watch my son graduate or teach him to shave or take my daughter to dances. It’s just unfathomable. I do not — I can’t process it.” I especially feel for him because my family and I just recently visited the beautiful island of Turks and Caicos and I can’t imagine that wonderful vacation ending in such a tragic way.

Sadly, Ryan Watson isn’t the only American in this harrowing situation. The article points out that Bryan Hagerich from Pennsylvania is still awaiting trial after ammunition was found in his checked bag in February. Bryan said he has “spent eight nights in their local jail. Some of the darkest, hardest times of my life, quite frankly.”

These are terrible situations but ones that can be easily avoided. If you own a gun, triple check your bags and all compartments within to confirm that there is absolutely nothing you’ve overlooked. In fact, I would not use the same bag for travel that you use for your guns and ammunition.

This unfortunate story underscores the fact that laws around the world are different than they are here in the United States (sometimes drastically so) and it’s your responsibility as a traveler to know what those laws are and to abide by them. And this doesn’t just apply to firearms. For instance, did you know that these common over-the-counter drugs are illegal in some countries?

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3 Comments On "'From dream vacation to nightmare': American dad faces 12 years in Turks and Caicos prison for having four rounds of bullets in his bag"
  1. Marlin|

    That is just stupid. Going to prison for having bullets and no gun? I thought it was the guns that were going around and shooting people, turns out it’s the bullets fault now?

  2. Debbie|

    That is crazy. This man needs to out and taking care of his family. Come America get HIM OUT OF THERE.

  3. Michael|

    I had the same thing happen to me in Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam Wednesday last week while going through customs. I had a 7.62×39 bullet left in my backpack from a previous hunting trip. It could have been a lot worse but they questioned me and let me go. All I could think about was the tv series Licked up abroad

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