TSA Finds Record-Breaking Number of Guns at Airports in 2018

Dec 14, 2018

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The Transportation Security Administration has found a record-breaking number of firearms in carryon bags in 2018. At airports across the US, security officers found more than 4,000 guns that passengers tried to bring onto planes throughout the year, according to a CBS report.

This year’s numbers even top 2017, a year in which the number of guns discovered at security checkpoints climbed 17%.

Out of the 4,000 guns found in carryon luggage, 300 of them were found at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport alone. In fact, according to CBS’ analysis of the data, only 10 airports were responsible for a third of all the firearm incidents. Gun laws tend to be looser in the states where these airports are, CBS said. Many of the passengers involved in the incidents seemed to have accidentally brought the firearm through security, ostensibly forgetting their gun was in the bag.

Police documents obtained in a Freedom of Information Act request by CBS also showed at least three incidents where TSA officers missed a gun in a carryon bag, only detecting the firearm on the passenger’s flight back home.

“It happens because the technology doesn’t get everything all the time,” TSA Administrator David Pekoske said. “Either there’s a technology issue, there’s a procedural issue, or there’s a training issue. I’m troubled by that, too. I think that everybody in TSA is troubled by it and mistakes happen…And I can’t give you an answer as to how often it happens. But when it does happen, we do everything we can to figure out why it happened.”

According to TSA guidelines, passengers may only transport unloaded firearms in locked, hard-sided containers in checked baggage. Flyers must also declare the firearm and/or ammunition to the airline when checking the bag.

Air passengers who do bring guns through the airport security checkpoint can be arrested on criminal weapons charges and levied a civil fine of up to $13,000. But, most people are not charged nearly that amount. The TSA says a first offender usually is charged a fine of $3,900, but CBS found that number is typically closer to $1,100. Even so, the TSA made a hefty profit from gun fines last year: The agency collected $1.45 million in firearm charges in 2017.

Featured image by John Moore/Getty Image.

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