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TSA sees spike in guns found at airport security checkpoints

Posted at 7:14 PM, Aug 08, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-09 05:50:07-04
The Transportation Security Administrating is seeing an alarming increase in guns seized at airport security checkpoints. 
 
Passengers are packing heat in the wrong suit case.
 
Last year the the TSA found 24 guns in carry on bags at Palm Beach International Airport. This year agents have already intercepted 15 and 13 of those were loaded.
 
 
It's the last thing any passenger would want to think about.
 
"I usually don't think about people traveling with guns," said passenger Cierra Bharath in town from Toronto.
 
But according to TSA, it's happening more and more around you at the security checkpoint.
 
"Unfortunately, there is a trend upwards in the number of passengers that are bringing firearms to the checkpoint," said Sari Koshetz, TSA spokesperson. 
 
The thought of loaded guns in carry on bags being thrown on the X-ray belt at checkpoint is chilling to Janna Tonahill who flies once a week.
 
"It's absolutely scary that it can go off at any time on the wrong move," said Tonahill.
 
Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport is seeing a serious increase in guns brought to the checkpoint.
 
According to the TSA, 56 guns were found in carry on bags at the airport checkpoint last year, this year the number is 47 and 43 of those guns were loaded.
 
This is the airport where gunman Esteban Santiago killed 5 people and injured others in a shooting earlier this year. He brought the gun aboard legally. The law says you can travel with your gun as checked baggage only. It has to be unloaded and locked in a hard-sided container and the airline has to be notified on arrival. A passenger cannot bring a gun into a plane whether on them or in a carry on. 
 
"We want to avoid another tragedy and you’ve seen the way people sometimes sling their carry on bags onto the X-ray belt in the checkpoint. We don’t want an accidental discharge and then someone gets critically injured," said Koshetz. 
 
The question? Why are people leaving guns in their carry on luggage?
 
"For me knowing just how much emphasis they put on liquids, how can people not be putting their guns away properly it's kind of mind-blowing to me," said Tonahill. 
 
The TSA says some people are just not realizing it. The TSA started compiling national lists of guns found in carry on bags in 2005, that year 660 guns were found nationally. Last year 3400 guns were found across country airports. 
 
Koshetz says a passenger can be arrested or fined for trying to bring a gun past security checkpoint.
 
"Even if they don't face criminal penalties depending on the jurisdiction that they bring that gun to, they will face a civil penalty from the TSA of up to 12 thousand dollars," said Koshetz.
 
These are the numbers of guns found at PBI in previous years:
 
2013 - 12
2014 - 9 
2015 - 17 
2016  - 24
YTD - 15 
 
At Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International airport:
 
2013 - 40
2014 - 49
2015 - 42
2016 - 56
YTD - 47 
 
The TSA says passengers need to know where their gun is when traveling and know the gun laws at your destination. Two Florida airports made it on the top list of then airports nationwide with the most guns seized at checkpoint. Combined, Orlando and Tampa had over 150 gun discoveries in 2016.