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TSA agents identify a record 73 guns at airports last week
By Steve Bittenbender
Transportation Security Administration agents had a record breaking week last week as they confiscated 73 firearms at American airports, according to a report on the agency’s blog.
The previous record was 68, which took place last October.
Of the guns found last week, 68 of them were loaded and 27 had a round in their chambers.
TSA’s preliminary breakdown showed that five of the guns were found on passengers travelling through Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. Four passengers were stopped at both Phoenix Sky Harbor International and Raleigh-DurhamInternational. Hartsfield-Jackson International in Atlanta, Birmingham-Shuttlesworth and George Bush Interncontinental in Houston had three passengers each who tried to bring on weapons.
Of the 73, the most common gun found was a 380, of which agents discovered 25 last week. Agents also pulled 17 9-mm guns from carry-on bags.
Bob Burns, a blogger with the TSA, said the agency makes these announcements to ensure that travelers are aware of the regulations about transporting weapons. On flights, passengers must pack them in checked luggage but only after they’ve been declared to the airline.
“Just because we find a prohibited item on an individual does not mean they had bad intentions,” Burns wrote. “That's for the law enforcement officer to decide. In many cases, people simply forgot they had these items.”
However, even if the individual had no ill intent, that doesn’t mean there won’t be consequences, including an arrest or a citation. Fines for bringing a weapon through a checkpoint can be up to $11,000.
Guns aren’t the only items that can be confiscated, the agency said. Ammunition and clips cannot be carried onto planes, and items that are replicas of grenades or other explosive devices or that look like bombs are prohibited outright. Burns noted that agents in Tucson found two large copies of military rounds that a passenger tried to take with them.
“When these items are found at a checkpoint or in checked baggage, they can cause significant delays because the explosives detection professionals must respond to resolve the alarm,” Burns noted. “Even if they are novelty items, you are prohibited from bringing them on board the aircraft.”
Even as TSA officials send out the constant reminders about not bringing guns and other contraband, the number of confiscated items continues to rise. In 2015, agents discovered 2,653 guns, a 20 percent increase from the year before. In 2008, agents only found 926 guns.
While it is against federal law to bring a weapon to an airport checkpoint, the common areas of airports fall under the laws of their respective states. That can lead to confusion for passengers as most states allow gun owners to carry in those areas. . Only Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Virginia ban guns outright at airports.
TSA strongly urges travelers to learn the laws about transporting weapons in their departure and arrival states as well as any state where they may have a layover. The administration also encourages travelers to send questions about what’s acceptable to its Twitter account, @AskTSA.