Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers detected three times more firearms in carry-on bags this past July than during the same month in 2019, even though passenger volume is significantly lower.
TSA officers detected 15.3 guns per million people last month compared to 5.1 guns per million people screened during July 2019.
The rate is particularly alarming, given that TSA screened about 75% fewer passengers in July 2020, over the previous year’s volume.
“TSA is diligently working to ensure our employees and passengers are safe and secure while traveling during a pandemic, and yet we are noticing a significant increase in loaded firearms coming into checkpoints,” TSA Administrator David Pekoske, said.
The recommended Federal civil penalty for an unloaded firearm starts at $2,050 and it starts at $4,100 for a loaded gun. The penalty can go up to the statutory maximum of more than $10,250 per violation, depending on the circumstances.
The complete list of penalties is posted online (https://www.tsa.gov/travel/civil-enforcement).
“Even more concerning is that 80 percent of the firearms coming into the checkpoint are loaded and it’s just an accident waiting to happen," Pekoske said. "Travelers need to know that if they bring a gun to the security checkpoint it will be an inconvenient and expensive mistake on their part,”
Nationwide last year, 4,432 firearms were discovered in carry-on bags at checkpoints across the country, averaging about 12.1 firearms per day, approximately a 5% increase nationally in firearm discoveries from the total of 4,239 detected in 2018.
Eighty-seven percent of firearms detected at checkpoints last year were loaded.
**According to the TSA** (https://www.tsa.gov/sites/default/files/tsa-gun-catches-by-airport-july-2020.pdf), during July, Newark Airport only had one incident of a passenger trying to get a firearm past security.
**Traveling Safely with Firearms**
Passengers are permitted to travel with firearms in checked baggage if they are properly packaged and declared at check-in with the airline. Firearms must be unloaded, packed in a hard-sided case, locked, and packed separately from ammunition.
Ammunition and firearm parts, including firearm frames, receivers, clips, and magazines are also prohibited in carry-on baggage and must be checked.
Any type of replica firearm is prohibited in carry-on baggage and must be transported in checked luggage. Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality; therefore, travelers should familiarize themselves with state and local firearm laws for each point of travel prior to departure.
TSA has details on **how to properly travel with a firearm** (https://www.tsa.gov/travel/transporting-firearms-and-ammunition) posted on its website.
Airlines may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition. Travelers should also contact their airline regarding firearm and ammunition carriage policies.