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Monday, December 5, 2022

Almost 200 Guns Stopped at Florida Airport Checkpoints Already This Year

The Transportation Security Administration continues to remind passengers to check their bags for firearms before bringing them to the checkpoint. Apart from the risks of taking a gun onto a flight, the firearm could discharge while TSA officers conduct bag searches which could have fatal consequences.

Airports in the state of Florida have seen a fresh round of gun catches lately. A man headed for Seattle arrived at a TSA checkpoint at Tampa International Airport with a Bersa Thunder semi-automatic pistol. The weapon was loaded with six rounds; one bullet was chambered.  A woman headed for Atlantic City entered the St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport security checkpoint with both a Sig Sauer and a Glock in her backpack.  Another woman entered the Jacksonville International Airport checkpoint with a gate pass to meet a minor and in her purse was a Ruger semi-automatic. That weapon was also loaded with a bullet chambered.

TSA officers stopped each of them.  “Whether or not they had nefarious intent, accidents happen and tragedies could result,” said TSA spokesperson Sari Koshetz. “This dangerous trend continues across Florida and across the country. Know exactly where your gun is before you enter the airport and make sure that it is not in your backpack, purse, computer bag or suitcase that you plan to bring into the security checkpoint.”

Also during recent days: on April 7 a woman with a Sig Sauer loaded with six rounds, one of them chambered, entered a Miami International Airport TSA checkpoint. She left without her gun and with a notice to appear in court.  The following day a male with a Taurus 9mm loaded with 12 rounds was stopped by the TSA and arrested by the Orlando Police Department at Orlando International Airport.  On April 11 a man carrying a Beretta into Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport was intercepted by the TSA and while he was not arrested, he will lose his TSA PreCheck privileges and he faces a fine that could exceed $13,000.

The list goes on: 195 guns long for the year-to-date in Florida. Topping the list of guns are Orlando International at 40; Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International at 36; Tampa International at 26; Miami International at 19 and Jacksonville International at 17.

Puget Sound area airports have also seen multiple gun catches recently. TSA officers at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport discovered three firearms this week and TSA officers at Paine Field have discovered one. All four firearms were discovered during the routine screening of carry-on luggage in the security checkpoint. There is no indication the four incidents are linked.

Meanwhile, TSA officers at the Idaho Falls Regional Airport detected a 9 mm Glock 43X pistol loaded with 10 rounds of ammunition and a second magazine loaded with 10 rounds of ammunition in the carry-on luggage of a male passenger ticketed for travel to Salt Lake City International Airport. This occurred on April 13 during the routine X-ray screening of carry-on luggage at the security checkpoint.  Upon discovery of the firearm, TSA immediately notified airport law enforcement and they responded to the security checkpoint. Law enforcement questioned the traveler who was allowed to continue on his flight. The incident has been referred to the Bonneville County prosecutor’s office for review. This was the second firearm discovered by TSA in carry-on luggage at Idaho Falls in 2022. At this same point in 2021, TSA officers had detected one firearm in carry-on luggage.

Passengers face a civil penalty from the TSA that can reach as much as $13,910 and that is imposed regardless of whether the individual is arrested by law enforcement.  If the traveler is in the TSA PreCheck® program, those privileges will be lost for a period of time, possibly permanently.

Read TSA’s guidelines on the correct way to travel 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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