TAMPA, Fla (WFLA) – Air travel is a fraction of what it was last year around this time. Despite that, the amount of people trying to bring firearms onto flights has skyrocketed.
Data from the Transportation Security Administration shows that nationally, the rate of guns being found in carry on bags has tripled during the month of July, with 80% of those firearms loaded.
Last year, 4,432 firearms were discovered in carry-on bags at checkpoints across the country, averaging about 12.1 firearms per day, approximately a 5% increase nationally in firearm discoveries from the total of 4,239 detected in 2018.
In July 2020 though, the TSA reports that 300 guns were found. That’s an average of 15.3 firearms for every million people screened, where only 5.1 firearms were found per million in July of 2019.
“As a proportion of passenger volume to guns, the current numbers across the state generally represent a disturbing increase,” said TSA spokeswoman Sari Koshetz.
Tampa Bay’s three major airports are no exception.
St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport tripled the guns found at its security checkpoint, with eight so far this year.
For Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport had a 50 percent increase in its year-to-date total, with three firearms found in 2020 according to the TSA.
Tampa International Airport is the only one among the three that has not increased in the year-to-date number of guns brought to security checkpoints, falling to 36 from 45 in 2019.
Passengers are permitted to travel with firearms in checked baggage if they are properly packaged, unloaded and declared at their airline ticket counter.
TSA has details on how to properly travel with a firearm on its website.
A typical first offense for carrying a loaded handgun into a checkpoint is a $4,100 fine. This applies to travelers with or without concealed gun carry permits, because even though an individual may have a concealed carry permit, it does not allow for a firearm to be carried onto an airplane.
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