TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — There are just two weeks left in 2022 and holiday travel is about to reach its peak. While the whole country seems to be hitting the road or flying to see family and friends for the holidays, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration said the number of firearms sized from passenger carry-ons hit another record.
Three Florida airports are in the top 10 for most guns taken at airports with TSA, and one of them is in Tampa.
According to Sari Koshetz from the TSA’s Gulf Region, which includes Florida, the number of guns seized at airports in the state hit 815 this week, a new record, and there are still two big travel weekends left for the year.
In 2021, just 666 firearms were seized across the state’s federalized airports, the ones where TSA operates, according to Koshetz. Speaking with WFLA.com, she said TPA, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, and Orlando International airport all made it into the top 10 for most seized firearms in the country, as far as guns found in passenger carry-on bags.
Nationally, the TSA has already reported 2022 is a record year for seizures at their security checkpoints. As of Friday, TSA reported it stopped 6,301 firearms. 88% of them were loaded, according to the agency report.
They don’t expect the number to stop there, with seizures in 2022 already almost 10% higher than the year before.
“TSA anticipates it will prevent about 6,600 firearms in carry-on bags from entering the secure area of airports by the end of 2022, a nearly 10% increase over 2021’s record level,” TSA said in their report. In 2021, the record total was 5,972 firearms. “Firearm possession laws vary by state and local government, but firearms are never allowed in carry-on bags at any TSA security checkpoint, even if a passenger has a concealed weapon permit.”
Violating that law has had increased penalties, now bringing a $14,950 fine for those who bring weapons to airports. Additionally, TSA PreCheck eligibility will be revoked for at least five years for passengers caught with firearms.
In a previous check on Florida gun seizures by TSA from Dec. 9, the report noted that most of the guns were “loaded and most had ammunition chambered.” There were 793 guns reported as seized, a 19% increase, in Florida airports, according to TSA just a week before the latest report.
“An accidental discharge could result in tragedy,” Koshetz said at the time. “Every passenger bares the responsibility of knowing exactly where their gun is before entering the federal security checkpoint and that must not be on their person or in their carry-on.”
TSA said the Tampa, Fort Lauderdale, and Orlando airports are in the top 10 or 11 airports for federal gun violations nearly every year.
“Firearms are prohibited in carry-on bags at the checkpoint and onboard aircraft,” TSA Administrator David Pekoske said. “When a passenger brings a firearm to the checkpoint, this consumes significant security resources and poses a potential threat to transportation security, in addition to being very costly for the passenger.”