SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Oct. 26, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — Two loaded firearms were recovered in two days at Salt Lake City International Airport, officials said Tuesday.
“Two days, two loaded firearms discovered by @TSA officers @slcairport during routine screening of travelers’ carry-on luggage,” according to a tweet from Transport Security Administration Pacific. “The only way for guns to travel on a commercial aircraft is unloaded, in a locked hard-sided case in checked baggage. No exceptions.”
TSA officers say they detected a record number of firearms at airport security checkpoints this year, establishing a 20-year record with three months remaining in the calendar year and fewer passengers traveling due to the pandemic. The top 10 airports for firearm discoveries thus far are Atlanta at 391, Dallas Fort Worth at 232, Houston at 168, Phoenix at 147, Nashville with 115, Fort Lauderdale and Denver with 107, New Orleans and Salt Lake City with 90, and Dallas Love Field with 88.
By Oct. 3 of this year, TSA officers had stopped 4,495 airline passengers from carrying firearms onto their flights, surpassing the previous record of 4,432 firearms caught at checkpoints in the full calendar year 2019. TSA officers discovered 11 firearms in carry-on bags at airport checkpoints per million passengers screened so far in 2021. This compares to 5 firearms per million passengers in 2019, according to the TSA.
Nationwide, TSA officers detected 3,257 firearms on passengers or their carry-on bags at checkpoints last year, although the total number of passengers screened at airport checkpoints across the country fell by 500 million compared to 2019, due to the pandemic. The result was that twice as many firearms per million passengers screened were detected at checkpoints in 2020 compared to 2019. In 2020, the TSA caught approximately 10 firearms per million passengers as compared to about five firearms per million passengers in 2019.
“Bringing weapons to an airport checkpoint carries a federal civil penalty because TSA reserves the right to issue a civil penalty to travelers who have guns and knives with them at a checkpoint,” the news release said. “Civil penalties for bringing a handgun into a checkpoint can stretch to over $13,000, depending on mitigating circumstances. This applies to travelers with or without concealed gun carry permits because even though an individual may have a concealed carry permit, it does not allow for a firearm to be carried onto an airplane.”
Passengers are permitted to travel with firearms in checked baggage if they are properly packaged and declared at their airline ticket counter, the news release said. Firearms must be unloaded, packed in a hard-sided locked case, and packed separately from ammunition. Then the locked case should be taken to the airline check-in counter to be declared. The TSA has details on how to properly travel with a firearm posted on its website.
Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality and passengers should do their homework to make sure that they are not violating any local firearm laws. Travelers should also contact their airline as they may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition.