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Thursday, December 1, 2022

TSA Officers Detect More Loaded Firearms as Passenger Volumes Increase

Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers at airports in Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Tampa, Jacksonville and Pensacola stopped guns that passengers had brought to the security checkpoints – six of them in six days. As passenger volumes have increased, so have the guns. Every one of the guns was accompanied by ammunition; most were loaded.

Four men and two women, aged 23 to 45, face a civil penalty from the TSA that can exceed $13,000, even if they are not arrested. Several of them were arrested. 

TSA has stopped 141 guns so far this year across the state of Florida. The latest six guns were stopped at Pensacola International on June 3; Miami International on June 4 and 8; Jacksonville International on June 6; Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywoood International and Tampa International on June 7.

Meanwhile, TSA officers at Juneau International Airport discovered a loaded firearm in the carry-on luggage of male traveler ticketed for travel to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on June 8.

Around 6 a.m. during the routine screening of carry-on luggage, a TSA officer spotted the image of a handgun on the x-ray screen. TSA immediately notified the Juneau Police Department, which responded to the security checkpoint.

The gun – a North American Arms .40 caliber Ruger SR40C – was loaded with 15 rounds of ammunition. Law enforcement confiscated the firearm and the traveler was allowed to continue on his flight.

At Arnold Palmer Regional Airport, a local man was arrested on June 7 after TSA officers detected a 9 mm handgun in his carry-on bag. The gun was unloaded, however it was accompanied by a magazine loaded with four bullets.

The gun was spotted by a TSA officer when it appeared on the checkpoint X-ray machine’s monitor. TSA contacted the Westmoreland County Park Police, who arrived at the checkpoint, confiscated the gun and detained the man, a resident of Latrobe, Pennsylvania, for questioning before arresting him on a weapons charge.

The same day, a Merrimack County, New Hampshire, man was caught with a .45 caliber handgun loaded with eight bullets, including one in the chamber at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport.

The gun was spotted by a TSA officer when it appeared on the checkpoint X-ray monitor. TSA contacted the Londonderry Police Department, who arrived at the checkpoint and allowed the man to hand off the gun to a family member.  It was the second gun caught at the airport this year. Last year TSA officers stopped one gun at the airport checkpoint.

Nationwide, TSA officers have discovered 1,074 firearms this year to date and 85% of those have been loaded. In 2019, a total of 4,432 firearms were found in carry-on luggage, 87% of which were loaded.

Read TSA’s guidance for traveling with firearms

Kylie Bielby
Kylie Bielby has more than 20 years' experience in reporting and editing a wide range of security topics, covering geopolitical and policy analysis to international and country-specific trends and events. Before joining GTSC's Homeland Security Today staff, she was an editor and contributor for Jane's, and a columnist and managing editor for security and counter-terror publications.

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