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Dangerous Trend Continues As Passengers Bring Guns to TSA Checkpoints In Record Numbers

Passengers across the state of Florida continue to bring a record number of guns to the Transportation Security Administration’s security checkpoints. The year-to-date number in Florida of 581 guns is clearly going to eclipse previous years.

So far during just the month of September, TSA officers intercepted 7 guns at Orlando International Airport, bringing the year-to-date total to 107 at MCO; 12 guns at Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport bringing this year’s total to 104 at FLL; 14 guns at Tampa International, bringing the year-to-date total at TPA to 83; six guns at Miami International, bringing this year’s total to 67 at MIA; and two guns in September at Jacksonville International Airport, bringing the year-to-date total at JAX to 47.  Other airports in Florida where guns were stopped in September included Daytona Beach International, Southwest Florida International, Palm Beach International, Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport, Pensacola International, Tallahassee International, Gainesville Regional Airport, and Punta Gorda Airport. Every federalized airport in the state is represented in the 581.

TSA officers stopped each of them and immediately partnered with law enforcement.  Nearly every one of these guns was loaded and most had ammunition chambered.

“Each gun presents a danger. Any incident could have tragic results,” said TSA spokesperson Sari Koshetz. “This ominous trend continues across the country. Every passenger should know exactly where their gun is before they enter the airport and make sure that it is not in a backpack, purse, suitcase or any carry-on that you plan to bring into the security checkpoint.”

Many of these passengers were arrested or issued notices to appear in court. Koshetz advises: “Don’t let bringing a gun to a federal checkpoint be the reason you cannot answer ‘no’ to the question often asked on job applications: have you ever been arrested.”

Passengers face a civil penalty from the TSA that can reach as much as $13,910 and that is imposed regardless of whether the individual is arrested by our law enforcement partners.  If the traveler is in the TSA PreCheck program, those privileges will be lost for a period of time, possibly permanently.

Every year FLL, TPA and MCO are typically in the top 10 or 11 airports across the country for passengers violating federal law by bringing guns to the TSA checkpoints.

Here are five tips for getting through the TSA checkpoint as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Tip 1: No guns in carry-ons. Firearms must be in checked baggage. All firearms must be properly packed and declared to the airline at check-in, which means unloaded and in a locked, hard-sided case. Contact your airline for additional guidance. And it is your responsibility to know what the gun laws are on both sides of your trip because guns may not be legal to transport even in checked baggage in some jurisdictions.

Tip 2: Leave all prohibited items at home. To reduce the likelihood of a bag search at the checkpoint, search your own bag before leaving home. Unsure if it’s allowed: use the “What Can I Bring?” page on TSA.gov.

Tip 3: Prepare for the security checkpoint. Have a valid ID card readily available. Follow the liquids, gels and aerosols rule of 3.4 ounces or less, with the exception of hand sanitizer, which has a temporary 12-ounce limit in carry-on baggage. Empty your pockets into your carry-on rather than into a bin.

Tip 4: Help is available. Get live assistance by tweeting your questions to @AskTSA in English or Spanish or via Facebook Messenger. You can also call the TSA Contact Center at 866-289-9673.

Tip 5: Enroll now in TSA PreCheck. Travel with ease by enrolling in TSA PreCheck and avoid removing shoes, belts, liquids, food, laptops and light jackets. Most new enrollees receive a known traveler number within five days, and membership lasts for five years. 

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