TSA officers finding more guns at checkpoints in spite of fewer travelers

TSA officers finding more guns at checkpoints in spite of fewer travelers
Officials say a TSA officer spotted a .357 caliber revolver loaded with five bullets in the woman’s carry-on bad and notified police. (Source: Transportation Security Administration)

WASHINGTON (WWBT) - Transportation Security Administration officers found three-times as many guns in carry-on bags this past July compared to the same month last year in 2019, in spite of fewer travelers.

TSA officers found 15.3 guns per million people last month compared to 5.1 guns per million people screened during July 2019. Officials said the rate is “alarming” considering that there were 75 percent fewer people screened in July 2020, over last year’s volume.

“TSA is diligently working to ensure our employees and passengers are safe and secure while traveling during a pandemic, and yet we are noticing a significant increase in loaded firearms coming into checkpoints,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske. “Travelers must understand that firearms are prohibited items at airports and in the passenger cabins of aircraft. As hard as we are working to mitigate other risks at this time, no one should be introducing new ones.”

Officials said what is even more concerning to them is that a large number of firearms being detected are loaded.

“Even more concerning is that 80 percent of the firearms coming into the checkpoint are loaded and it’s just an accident waiting to happen. Travelers need to know that if they bring a gun to the security checkpoint, regardless of whether it is in a handbag, knapsack, roller-bag or strapped to their belt, it will be an inconvenient and expensive mistake on their part,” Pekoske said.

Penalties for having an unloaded firearm at checkpoints start at $2,050 and it starts at $4,100 for a loaded gun.

Last year nationwide, 4,432 firearms were discovered in carry-on bags at checkpoints across the country. TSA officials said 87 percent of the firearms found last year were loaded.

Passengers are allowed to travel with firearms in checked baggage if they are properly stored and declared. Click here for more details on traveling with a firearm.

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