(NEXSTAR) – The Transportation Security Administration – or as we all know them, TSA – said it has spotted a scary trend in 2021: more travelers trying to get on the plane with a gun. Lots more.
In fact, by Oct. 3, the number of firearms spotted at TSA checkpoints topped a 20-year record – and that’s with nearly three months still left in the year.
TSA officers have reported catching 4,495 passengers from traveling with a gun so far this year. That breaks the record last set in 2019 – and that’s with far fewer passengers traveling. The TSA said per 1 million travelers it screens, they caught 11 with guns in their carry-ons. In 2019, it was 5 per 1 million airline passengers.
“The number of firearms that our TSA officers are stopping at airport checkpoints is alarming,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske in a press release.
If you do get caught going through security with a firearm, you could face fines up to $13,910 and could be charged with a crime. The type of weapon and whether or not it’s loaded determines how big of a fine you might be hit with. (See the full list of penalties on TSA’s website.)
Don’t try and play dumb once you’ve gotten caught, either.
“We have means and capabilities of identifying who that bag belongs to,” Lt. Todd Heck, a police officer at John Glenn International Airport in Columbus, Ohio, told WCMH. “We can determine who the owner is. They’re not going to be able to leave at that point. That individual is not going to be able to complete the screening process with TSA and again, they’re going to be placed in investigative custody with us and not be free to leave.”
If you want to travel with a firearm, you need to pack it in checked luggage (unloaded and packed in a locked case) so it goes in the plane’s cargo hold. Also, make sure it’s legal to have that type of gun at your destination.