TSA found 70 guns at airport security checkpoints over Independence Day weekend
WASHINGTON / CNN — The number of guns found at American airport security checkpoints is fast approaching the number caught in all of 2020, officials said.
The uptick in firearm discoveries is slowing down screening lines as more and more people return to air travel.
In the first six months of 2021, Transportation Security Administration officers uncovered almost 3,000 firearms, spokeswoman Sarah Rodriguez said. In 2020, when air travel was depressed by the COVID-19 pandemic, officers found 3,257 firearms. In 2019, officers found 4,432 guns.
During the July 4 weekend, TSA officers stopped 70 guns at checkpoints, and 62 were loaded, Rodriguez said.
Guns weren’t the only dangerous items officers found: A traveler at the Norfolk airport brought 13 firecrackers, a passenger at O’Hare arrived with brass knuckles, and Boise, Idaho, screeners found both a loaded firearm and a hatchet in a man’s carry-on, TSA officials said.
Most passengers caught armed report forgetting the guns were in the bags, TSA officials said. It offers a simple solution for that problem: Start packing for a trip with an entirely empty suitcase.
Federal regulations allow passengers to pack firearms in checked luggage. Guns must be deposited at airline check-in counters and passengers need to declare firearms to airline agents, and pack weapons unloaded in hard-sided and locked containers.
TSA officials said the agency fines passengers up to $2,475 for bringing unloaded guns through checkpoints and up to $10,000 for a first offense of bringing a loaded gun. Officers also refer passengers for criminal prosecution, and penalties can be higher for repeat offenses.
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