Last year, a woman traveling from the Philadelphia airport had a telephone, snacks, and prescription medication in her handbag. What was more significant, though, was loaded.380 caliber handgun she had packed in a black holster.
One of the 6,542 weapons the Transportation Security Administration discovered at airport checkpoints nationwide last year was the weapon in question.
In an era when more People are carrying weapons, the number — around 18 per day — was a record high for firearms discovered at American airports.
TSA chief David Pekoske said, “What we see in our checkpoints truly reflects what we’re seeing in society, and society, there are more people carrying firearms these days.”
Since 2010, more firearms have been seized at airport inspections each year, except a pandemic-wrecked 2020.
As almost everyone apprehended claims to have forgotten they had a gun with them, experts do not believe that there is an epidemic of would-be hijackers, but they stress the risk that even one gun might pose in the wrong hands on a plane or at a checkpoint.
Guns have been intercepted from Burbank, California, to Bangor, Maine. Yet, Pekoske noted that it frequently occurs at larger airports in places where carrying a gun is legal. Dallas, Austin, and Houston in Texas, and three airports in Florida, Nashville, Tennessee, Atlanta, Phoenix, and Denver, are in the top 10 list for gun interceptions in 2022.
Pekoske is unsure if the “I forgot” defense is always valid or a typical response to being discovered. Whatever the case, he insisted that the issue must be resolved.
The belt is typically stopped when a TSA employee sees what they suspect to be a weapon on the X-ray machine, so the bag stays within, and the customer cannot access it. The local police are then called.
Depending on local and state legislation, the consequences change. The gun might be seized, and the person might be taken into custody.
Yet, they are occasionally permitted to hand the weapon over to a partner who isn’t traveling with them and carry on. Unloaded guns may be put in checked bags as long as they follow the correct procedures.
The Philadelphia woman observed her gun confiscated and was slated to be fined.
The TSA uses those federal fines to punish people who bring guns to checkpoints. As a deterrent, TSA increased the maximum penalty to $14,950 last year.
Also, passengers lose their PreCheck designation, allowing them to skip some screening forms for five years. The government modified the guidelines a year ago and extended the time limit from the previous three years.
In addition to losing their firearms, passengers could miss their trip. A federal violation exists if law enforcement officials can demonstrate the person intended to carry the gun beyond the checkpoint and into the so-called “sterile area” of the airport.
According to retired TSA employee Keith Jeffries, gun interceptions can cause line delays for other travelers.
According to authorities and experts, the increase in gun interceptions results from more Americans carrying weapons.
An industry trade body, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, keeps track of FBI data about background checks for the sale of firearms.
In 2000, there were just over 7 million, and in 2013, there were around 16.4 million. The coronavirus epidemic caused them to rise even further.
It can be upsetting for TSA agents who are looking for illegal things.