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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Three Florida Airports Make the Top 10 List, Again

TSA Officers Intercept Record Numbers of Firearms at Checkpoints in Nine Florida Airports

Three Florida airports once again made the nationwide top 10 list for passengers bringing firearms to the security checkpoints.  They were Orlando International Airport (MCO) with 164 firearms intercepted by TSA officers, Tampa International (TPA) with 144, and Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) with 135.  In each case those were record numbers for that airport.

The other six airports across the state that either matched their highest number or exceeded their previous record were Jacksonville International, Palm Beach International, Sarasota Bradenton International, Northwest Florida Beaches International, Punta Gorda International and Daytona Beach International.

2023 Firearm Record TSA Photo

The total number across the state dropped slightly – by three percent – but reached 825 firearms intercepted at checkpoints. Across the country TSA officers intercepted a record 6,737 firearms, 93 percent of which were loaded.

The 2023 totals at the other airports in Florida were: Miami with 77 firearms, Jacksonville with 73, Southwest Florida International with 41, Palm Beach with 35, Pensacola with 27, Sarasota Bradenton with 20, Northwest Florida Beaches with 18, St. Pete-Clearwater with 17, Punta Gorda with 16, Tallahassee with 14,  Orlando Sanford with 13, Daytona Beach with 13, Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport with 12,  Melbourne Orlando International with four, Gainesville Regional with one, and Key West with one.

Most were loaded and many had ammunition chambered.

“An accidental discharge could result in tragedy,” said TSA spokesperson Sari Koshetz.  “Every passenger bares the responsibility of knowing exactly where their firearm is before entering the federal security checkpoint and that must not be on their person or in their carry-on.”

Many of these passengers were arrested or issued notices to appear in court. Regardless of whether the individual is arrested or cited by our law enforcement partners, passengers face a civil penalty imposed by the TSA that can reach nearly $15,000.  If the traveler is in the TSA PreCheck program, those privileges will be lost for a period of time, possibly permanently.

“If you are going to travel with your firearm it must be in your checked bag, but be sure you know exactly what the firearm laws are on each side of your trip or you may be heading to jail instead of to your vacation or business trip,” Koshetz added. “Firearms may not be legal to transport even in checked baggage in some jurisdictions.”

Every year MCO, FLL and TPA are typically in the top 10 or 11 airports across the country for passengers violating federal regulations by bringing firearms to the TSA checkpoints. The other airports in the country that made the top 10 list – a top 10 list that airport leadership would rather not be on – were: Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta, Dallas Fort Worth, George Bush (Houston) Intercontinental, Phoenix Sky Harbor, Nashville, Denver and Dallas Love Field.  MCO was number seven, TPA was number eight and FLL was number nine on that list.

TSA officers at security checkpoints across the state of Florida already have intercepted 50 firearms so far this year.

Here are five tips for getting through the TSA checkpoint as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Tip 1: No firearms in carry-ons. Firearms must be in checked baggage. All firearms must be properly packed and declared to the airline at check-in, which means unloaded and in a locked, hard-sided case. Contact your airline for additional guidance. And it is your responsibility to know what the firearm laws are on both sides of your trip.

Tip 2: Leave all prohibited items at home. To reduce the likelihood of a bag search at the checkpoint, search your own bag before leaving home. Unsure if it’s allowed: use the “What Can I Bring?” link on TSA.gov.

Tip 3: Prepare for the security checkpoint. Have a valid ID card readily available. If you are traveling with a carry-on bag follow the liquids, gels and aerosols 3-1-1 rule of 3.4 ounces or less for each item and the items should be placed in a one-quart-sized bag, one bag per passenger. To simplify your screening and even before entering the checkpoint it is best to put your phones and any other content of your pockets into your carry-on rather than into a bin in the checkpoint.

Tip 4: Help is available. Get live assistance by tweeting your questions to @AskTSA in English or Spanish or via Facebook Messenger. You can also call the TSA Contact Center at 866-289-9673.

Tip 5: Enroll now in TSA PreCheck. Travel with ease by enrolling in TSA PreCheck and avoid removing shoes, belts, liquids, laptops and light jackets. Most new enrollees receive a known traveler number within five days, and membership lasts for five years.

To see the national graphic click here.

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Homeland Security Today
The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.
Homeland Security Today
Homeland Security Todayhttp://www.hstoday.us
The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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