TSA: More guns found at airport checkpoints despite fewer passengers

Dayton International Airport. FILE
Dayton International Airport. FILE

Transportation Security Administration officers reported finding three times as many guns in carry-on bags last month compared to July 2019, despite seeing significantly fewer passengers.

Officers detected 15.3 guns per million people last July and 5.1 guns per million people in July 2019. TSA screened 75% fewer passengers last month than in July 2019.

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“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 David Pekoske, TSA administrator. “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.”

Atlanta topped the list of guns found by airport with 27 weapons. Dayton International Airport did not make the list, but TSA found three guns at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, two at the Cleveland Hopkins International Airport and one at the John Glenn International Airport in Columbus.

On average, 80% of firearms found are loaded, according to TSA.

Passengers can face fines starting at $2,050 for an unloaded gun found in carry-on and and $4,100 for a loaded gun. The maximum penalty can be as high as $10,250 per violation.

Passengers can have trusted traveler status and TSA PreCheck screening benefits revoked for a period of time.

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“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.

Passengers can travel with a gun in a checked bag as long as it is properly store and declared at check-in with the airline. Guns must be unloaded, in a hard-sided case, locked and packed separate from ammunition. Gun parts, ammunition and replicas also must be kept in checked luggage.