LONDON – In a time where travel is already so disrupted and with many false bomb threats being made over the last few months on multiple flights, it comes as a shock now to find out that a report published by the TSA (Transport Security Administration) has intercepted a record number of firearms being brought to airport security checkpoints.
Figures Increasing Despite Harsh Penalties
What is perhaps more worrying is not so much the number of firearms caught at checkpoints since 2010, but it is the increasing number of them year on year, with the lowest year on record being 2020, which is no surprise given the COVID-19 outbreak brought air travel to its knees with multiple cancellations and mass unemployment taking hold in some countries and business.
The report shows that so far this year, as of December 16, the TSA has stopped 6,301 firearms; more than 88 per cent of which were loaded, with many customers trying to carry them onboard in their hand-held luggage.
For a Firearm to be considered “loaded” the TSA says the term is used when both the gun and the ammunition are equally accessible by the passenger, which means the rounds do not necessarily need to be locked into the gun.
Fines for breaking the rules on undisclosed firearms being attempted to be carried onto a flight can see the TSA impose civil penalties of up to $14,950 per violation per person.
The TSA said that it 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 Administrator David Pekoske commented on the report saying: “Firearms are prohibited in carry-on bags at the checkpoint and onboard aircraft. 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.”
He added: “I applaud the work of our Transportation Security Officers who do an excellent job of preventing firearms from getting into the secure area of airports and onboard aircraft,”
Should Guns Even Be Allowed On Planes?
It is a very hard topic, with the argument already being set out, that the TSA and airlines already have very strict procedures in place that state firearms must be packaged and transported in certain ways and can only be brought onto a plane through checked bags which are loaded into the hold,m the more worrying aspect of this however is how many of the firearms were loaded.
Perhaps it is time that stricter laws and large fines are brought into the US to discourage passengers from even wanting to travel with a firearm. While it is important that customers should be able to have the right to have guns transported, perhaps stricter rules which mean the guns must be dropped off at dedicated stations away from the airport prior to arriving at the terminal for your flight, thus eliminating the possibility of people forgetting their guns are in their bags.
With some US states allowing open firearm carrying it would not be a surprise to find out that some of the 6,301 recorded seizures of firearms were honest mistakes, however, this doesn’t remove the issue of it being against the law to carry a firearm, let alone a loaded firearm onto an aircraft.
Even with the high penalties and the risk of $14,950 civil penalty fines, the number of firearms being seized continues to increase, the question now is what new rules or laws can be implemented to help bring the numbers back down.