Fewer people have been flying — a lot fewer — since the pandemic national emergency began in Marc, but apparently those who are flying have something in common: lots of them are leaving loaded guns in carry-on luggage. No, it isn’t exactly new for guns to be found during the screening process, but apparently the problem is at an all-time high.
According to USA Today the occurrence of guns being found in the wrong spot by TSA has tripled:
…[A]irport security is finding guns in passenger carry-on bags at three times the rate recorded before the pandemic.
And 80% of the guns are loaded.
Officers found 15.3 guns for every million people screened in July, compared with 5.1 per million people in July of last year, the Transportation Security Administration said Monday.
There has been a significant increase in loaded guns at checkpoints, said TSA Administrator David Pekoske. He said screeners are already working in conditions of heightened risks and that “no one should be introducing new ones.”
“Even more concerning is that 80% of the firearms coming into the checkpoint are loaded, and it’s just an accident waiting to happen,” Pekoske said.
There are all kinds of fines and criminal charges tied to trying to go through a TSA checkpoint with a gun, loaded or not. The USA Today article was blessedly brief. They could’ve gone off the deep end with it, but they didn’t and another half-dozen news outlets also miraculously refrained from going a gun-bashing tirade. Not going to lie, I’m amazed they passed the opportunity up.
Homeland Security Today listed the fines associated with getting caught with a gun by TSA:
The recommended civil penalty for a firearm starts at $2,050 and can go up to the statutory maximum of more than $10,250 per violation. Civil penalties for stun guns start at $350 and can go up to $2,050. In addition to civil penalties, individuals who violate rules regarding traveling with firearms will have Trusted Traveler status and TSA PreCheck expedited screening benefits revoked for a period of time. The duration of the disqualification will depend upon the seriousness of the offense and if there is a repeated history of violations.
So, what’s going on? Most likely it’s simple: more people are buying guns now than ever before and they aren’t familiar with the rules. Ignorance is never an excuse for breaking a gun law, but that’s probably what’s going on. People don’t know the rules and they’re also so unfamiliar with gun handling there are probably also instances of forgetting they put the guns in their bags to begin with.
This is a good time for yet another push for gun education. Know your gun laws and keep up on them. Being well-educated in these things is all part of being a responsible gun owner.