WASHINGTON (WOWK) — Airports saw three times more firearms in carry-on bags last month as in July of 2019.
According to the Transportation Security Administration, security officers found 15.3 guns per million people last month compared to 5.1 guns per million people screened during July 2019.
TSA says the rise came although security officers screened about 75% fewer passengers this year.
“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. “As hard as we are working to mitigate other risks at this time, no one should be introducing new ones.”
Passengers caught with an unloaded firearm can receive a federal civil penalty starting at $2,050 if it’s unloaded and beginning at $4,100 if it’s loaded. The penalty can exceed $10,250 per violation, depending on the circumstances.
Nationwide last year, the TSA found 4,432 firearms, averaging about 12.1 firearms per day, a 5% increase nationally from the 4,239 detected in 2018. Last year, 87% of firearms detected at checkpoints were loaded.
“Even more concerning is that 80% of the firearms coming into the checkpoint are loaded and it’s just an accident waiting to happen,” Pekoske said. “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.”
According to the TSA, passengers are permitted to travel with firearms in checked baggage if they are properly packaged and declared at check-in with the airline.
TSA has details on how to properly travel with a firearm posted on its web site. Airlines may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition. Travelers should also contact their airline regarding firearm and ammunition carriage policies.