MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Fewer people fly, but more weapons show up at airports.
The Transport Safety Administration has confiscated 4,495 firearms found in hand luggage per. October 3, which is a new record in the calendar year with still more than two months left. The previous record was 4,432 in 2019.
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In general, the number of firearms confiscated at TSA checkpoints has increased every year since 2009 except in 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic began.
When travelers roll through TSA checkpoints at MSP Airport, on average at least once a week this year they have taken with them a prohibited item that puts passengers and staff at risk.
“We do not want them to ever come by plane,” said Jennifer Mayle, Public Affairs Specialist for the TSA Great Lakes Region.
Forty-four guns have been confiscated by the TSA at the MSP in 2021 so far, higher than the number taken in each of the previous three years. 34 were seized in 2020, 40 in 2019 and 37 in 2018.
This is in line with a worrying trend nationwide, with a record number of travelers being caught with firearms, sometimes loaded, in their hand luggage.
“Let me address this first. A loaded firearm is an irresponsible firearm, ”said an MSP traveler who has traveled properly with a gun before. “I just think it’s stupidity and negligence.”
Gerald Armijo, who also traveled on the MSP, was surprised when he learned the worrying news.
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“They have the signage at all the ticket counters that you have to check your gun, but people ignore the signage, I guess,” Armijo said.
Once a gun is found, MSP Airport Police will arrest the owner for what is likely to begin as a misdemeanor – but the consequences go beyond that.
“You will be subject to federal civil punishment by the TSA. There is a study we are writing a report, ”Mayle said, adding that it could lead to a fine of up to $ 14,000. “It would be extremely dangerous for a gun to be in the cabin of an airplane.”
The best excuse from those caught with a gun is that they simply forgot it was in the bag. Mayle also mentioned that when many people took a break from traveling during the pandemic, it was possible that they did not remember the rules. Others may be new gun owners who have not traveled before with a gun.
This is why the TSA is pushing for an awareness campaign and asking gun owners to unpack their bags until they are empty before packing them for a trip.
“Gun owners have a responsibility to know where their gun is at all times, and responsible gun owners do,” Mayle said.
If you travel with a firearm, unload it in a hard case and put it in a checked bag. You must also declare that you have a firearm in the bag when you check it. Ammunition must be packed separately in a checked bag, not in hand luggage. Firearm parts such as blades, clips and bolts must be in checked luggage.
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