TSA: Guns found at airport checkpoints up significantly

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BOSTON (WPRI) — There was a large increase in the number of guns found at security checkpoints at New England airports in 2018, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said Wednesday.

According to the TSA’s figures, officers stationed at the region’s eight major airports found a total of 45 handguns in carry-on bags last year, compared to 29 in 2017.

Four guns were caught at T.F. Green last year, according to the TSA. In comparison, the TSA said no guns were found at T.F. Green in 2017.

Six other New England airports also saw increases in the number of guns found:

  • Logan International Airport (Boston):
    • 2018 – 21
    • 2017 – 14
  • Bradley International Airport (CT):
    • 2018 – 9
    • 2017 – 5
  • Manchester Regional Airport (NH):
    • 2018 – 4
    • 2017 – 3
  • Portland International Jetport (ME):
    • 2018 – 4
    • 2017 – 3
  • Burlington International Airport (VT):
    • 2018 – 2
    • 2017 – 1
  • Worcester Regional Airport (MA):
    • 2018 – 1
    • 2017 – None

Bangor International Airport in Maine was the lone exception. The TSA said officers found no guns there last year, compared to three that were found in 2017.

TSA Administrator David Pekoske said he’s seen the number of guns confiscated at checkpoints increase every year for the past decade.

“I’m just going to guess here, I think more people are just simply carrying weapons in the country and we reflect what we’re seeing around the country,” he said. “When you are going through a TSA checkpoint, you know you’re there. You don’t just happen upon that. Before you hit the first person in line just take a quick look through your bag.”  

Nationwide, the TSA said officers found a total of 4,239 guns in carry-on bags in 2018, which is a 7% increase from the 3,957 guns discovered in 2017. According to the TSA, that averaged out to roughly 12 guns being found each day. The TSA said 86% of the guns they found were loaded and nearly 34% had a bullet in the chamber.

Passengers are allowed to travel with guns in checked baggage, as long as they have permits for them. According to the TSA, guns in checked bags must be unloaded and stored in a locked hard-sided case.

The TSA said they are working with airports to place more signage reminding travelers that guns cannot be placed in a carry-on bag. They said most travelers caught with them tell airport screeners it was a mistake.

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