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Thursday, February 2, 2023

Florida Airports Break Record for Guns at Checkpoints

Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers across the State of Florida have seen a surge in passengers bringing guns to airport checkpoints, breaking records across the state and specifically at the international airports in Ft. Lauderdale, Tampa, Miami, Pensacola, Fort Myers, and Destin-Fort Walton Beach.

TSA officers stopped guns on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, the day after Christmas and throughout the year. TSA spokesperson Sari Koshetz said the troubling and record-breaking trend is dangerous and threatens the safety of passengers and officers.

Across the state 658 passengers have brought guns to the checkpoints, the highest number ever.

TSA is reminding every passenger to pay more attention to where their guns are before leaving home and entering an airport.  If you are traveling with your gun, it must be in checked baggage and you must check what the laws are on the other side of your trip.

Year to date, TSA officers have stopped 130 guns at Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL); the previous record was 100 in 2019.  At MIA it is now 80 year-to-date, with the previous record of 60 reached last year. TSA officers at Tampa International Airport (TPA) have intercepted 105 guns this year with the previous record of 97 in 2017. At Pensacola International Airport TSA officers have intercepted 36 guns compared to the highest previous number of 30 in 2019. At Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers the TSA has stopped 38 passengers with guns this year compared to the previous record of 28 in 2017. At Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport the TSA has stopped 12 guns compared to the highest number of 10 in 2018. The total at Orlando International (MCO) is now 120, approaching the previous record of 123 in 2018.

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 cited or physically arrested and transported to jail by our law enforcement partners.  If the traveler is in the TSA PreCheck® program, those privileges will be lost for a period of time. And repeat offenders may lose their privileges permanently.

FLL, TPA and MCO are typically in the top 10 or 11 airports across the country for passengers violating the federal law.

Meanwhile, two Florida men have been prevented from bringing guns onto their flights from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. On Tuesday, Dec. 28, a man was carrying an unloaded .40 caliber handgun along with 116 bullets in his carry-on bag. Four days later, on Saturday, Jan. 1, another man was caught with a .40 caliber handgun loaded with six bullets at one of the airport checkpoints. When the guns were spotted in the X-ray machines, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority police were alerted. The police confiscated the guns and ammunition and cited each man.

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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