Saturday, June 3, 2023

TSA finds record number of guns on travelers at checkpoint

WASHINGTON (AP) – The federal agency that checks passengers before boarding planes says this year authorities have intercepted a record number of guns brought by travelers trying to pass through airport security checkpoints.

The Transportation Security Administration said in a news release Friday that officers have intercepted 6,301 firearms so far this year, and the agency is projecting that number to rise to 6,600 by the end of the year. The agency said this is an increase of about 10% from last year, which was already a record. The agency said that about 90 per cent of the weapons seized so far were loaded. The agency considers a weapon to be loaded if the passenger has access to both the gun and the ammunition.

In response, the agency said it is increasing the maximum civil penalty for firearms violations to $14,950. The agency said travelers caught with a weapon also lose their TSA PreCheck status — a security program that allows travelers to circumvent certain airport security measures, such as taking off their shoes — for at least five years. .

“Firearms are prohibited in carry-on bags at checkpoints and onboard aircraft. When a passenger brings a firearm to a checkpoint, it consumes significant security resources and poses a potential threat to transportation security in addition to being very costly to the passenger, TSA Administrator David Pekoske said in the news release.

The agency said that with the exception of 2020, when air traffic declined due to the coronavirus pandemic, the number of guns stopped at airport checkpoints has risen sharply every year since 2010.

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The agency said people caught with weapons in their carry-on bags could also face criminal charges, depending on the state they live in.

The agency’s website lists several incidents across the country where screening officers have caught guns through X-ray machines. Guns are allowed on planes but only as checked baggage and they must be declared to the airlines.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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