Gun enthusiasts may say nice gun but TSA officers @flyelp say prohibited item! This loaded .380 & 7 rounds of ammo were found in a passenger’s carry-on bag. | Photo/Quote courtesy TSA/Twitter
Thursday afternoon, officials with Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers at El Paso International Airport (ELP) say their officers found six handguns in travelers’ carry-on bags in 36 days.
“As traveler throughput numbers continue to increase nationwide, we have seen an uptick in the number of prohibited items found in passengers’ carry-on bags. TSA officers have remained focused during the pandemic and continue to be vigilant to prevent security threats from making it onboard airplanes,” said Jared Babin TSA’s Federal Security Director (FSD) for El Paso International Airport.
“I would like to remind travelers that Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines to wear facemasks, maintain social distance and wash hands remain in effect. If you travel, know and adhere to all CDC guidelines and recommendations.”
From February 19 to March 26, 2021, TSA officers found six handguns in the carry-on bags of six passengers. These firearm catches mark six gun finds in 36 days and with the exception of one, all guns were loaded.
In each incident TSA officers detected the firearms as they entered the checkpoint X-ray machine. They immediately alerted the El Paso Police Department, which responded to the checkpoint, interviewed each traveler, and cited them on a weapons charges. There was no indication the six firearm discoveries were linked.
So far in 2021, TSA officers at El Paso International Airport have detected six firearms in carry-on bags.
Nationwide, TSA officers have discovered 1006 firearms to date and 86% of those have been loaded. In 2020, a total of 3,257 firearms were found in carry-on luggage at airports across the country.
“If a gun is brought to the TSA screening checkpoint, the passenger will face a civil penalty that can exceed $13,000 and that fine is imposed regardless of whether an individual is arrested or cited by our law enforcement partners,” noted FDS Babin. “To maintain social distancing and not have to face a bag search, passengers are reminded to know precisely what is in their bags before leaving for the airport to ensure they have no prohibited items with them.”
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.
TSA officials share that firearms can be transported on a commercial aircraft only if they are unloaded, packed in a locked, hard-sided case and placed in checked baggage. Then they need to take the case to the airline ticket counter to declare the firearm, ammunition and any firearm parts.
Prior to traveling, passengers are encouraged to check gun laws and regulations at their destination to ensure they are in compliance with local and state laws. TSA also recommends travelers check with their airline prior to their flight to ensure they comply with any airline-specific requirements.
Ammunition and firearm parts, including firearm frames, receivers, clips and magazines are also prohibited in carry-on baggage and must be checked. Replica firearms also are prohibited in carry-on baggage and must be transported in checked luggage.
More information on traveling legally with a firearm is available on TSA’s website.