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Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Multiple Guns Stopped at TSA Checkpoints as Dangerous Trend Continues

Every year Florida airports are typically in the top 10 or 11 airports across the country for passengers violating federal law by bringing guns to the TSA checkpoints. 2022 Will likely be no exception as passengers across the state continue to bring a record number of guns to the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) checkpoints. The current year-to-date number in Florida of 581 guns is clearly going to eclipse previous years.

So far during just the month of September, TSA officers intercepted seven guns at Orlando International Airport, bringing the airport’s year-to-date total to 107; 12 guns at Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport bringing this year’s total to 104; 14 guns at Tampa International, bringing its year-to-date total 83; six guns at Miami International, bringing this year’s total to 67; and two guns in September at Jacksonville International Airport, bringing the year-to-date total to 47. Other airports in Florida where guns were stopped in September included Daytona Beach International, Southwest Florida International, Palm Beach International, Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport, Pensacola International, Tallahassee International, Gainesville Regional Airport, and Punta Gorda Airport. Every federalized airport in the state is represented in the 581.

TSA officers stopped each of them and immediately partnered with law enforcement.  Nearly every one of these guns was loaded and most had ammunition chambered.

“Each gun presents a danger. Any incident could have tragic results,” said TSA spokesperson Sari Koshetz. “This ominous trend continues across the country. Every passenger should know exactly where their gun is before they enter the airport and make sure that it is not in a backpack, purse, suitcase or any carry-on that you plan to bring into the security checkpoint.”

Many of these passengers were arrested or issued notices to appear in court. Koshetz advises: “Don’t let bringing a gun to a federal checkpoint be the reason you cannot answer ‘no’ to the question often asked on job applications: have you ever been arrested.”

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 our law enforcement partners. If the traveler is in the TSA PreCheck program, those privileges will be lost for a period of time, possibly permanently.

Also in the south of the country, TSA officers at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport in Texas continue to stop a record number of guns at the security checkpoints. As of September 23 of this year, TSA officers in Austin have prevented 114 guns from making it onboard airplanes.

From September 17 through the 23, six guns were stopped from making it onboard airplanes by TSA officers at the airport. On September 21 alone, three firearms were found. In every case, Austin Police Department was called to respond and adjudicate each incident.

“Our TSA officers once again prove why they are vital to airport security,” said Gilbert Almaraz, TSA’s Federal Security Director for Austin. “Passengers who are traveling with firearms need to ensure they declare them with the airline and that they are properly packed in their checked baggage.”

As of September 22 of this year, TSA officers at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport have prevented 133 guns from making it onboard airplanes. From September 18 through the 22, seven guns were stopped including three firearms found on September 22. In every case, Phoenix Police Department was called to respond and adjudicate each incident.

Regional airports are also seeing multiple incidents of guns brought to the TSA checkpoint. TSA officers at Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport have already stopped seven firearms this year, including two in the same week earlier this month. This is the highest number of guns caught at the airport in a single calendar year with three months remaining in 2022.

Read guidance on traveling with firearms at TSA

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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