The Transportation Security Administration is cracking down after thousands of loaded guns were found at airport checkpoints across the country. You can travel with your firearm, but there’s a proper way to pack it.
At Memphis Airport, 47 guns were found at checkpoints last year. That’s nearly a 75% increase from the year before, when 27 guns were found. And nearly 90% of weapons found were loaded.
“The most common thing we hear is I forgot or I didn’t know it was there,” says Kevin McCarthy, Assistant Federal Security Director, TSA Memphis.
That’s not going to fly anymore, according to TSA agents.
There’s been a steady increase in the number of guns found in carry-on bags at airport checkpoints nationwide. In 2008, 926 guns were found at airports across the country. Last year, more than 4,200 guns were found. 86% were loaded.
In Memphis, nearly 90% of guns found were loaded.
“We don’t want to infringe in anybody’s right to take a firearm with them when they travel, we just want it to be packed in a check bag and not brought to the checkpoint or in the cabin of the aircraft for obvious reasons,” says TSA Regional Spokesperson Mark Howell.
So what do you need to do?
- Get a hard-sided case with padding inside. Make sure the case is locked and hang on to the key.
- Also make sure your weapon is not loaded. You can store secured ammunition inside the gun case.
- Try to pack your gun case in your checked suitcase.
- Tape a business card or contact information to the outside of the box in case TSA needs to contact you.
Memphis TSA agents say they find, on average, about one gun a week.
“If you’re able to fly with it out of here and carry it here, the carry Laws are not reciprocal in state to state so you need to do your research before you travel,” says Howell.
“If you’re a conscientious firearm owner, you ought to know where your weapon is at every time. And obviously we all want to be on an aircraft that’s safe,” says McCarthy. “If you do come to the checkpoint and we do find a weapon, law enforcement will be called. You could be subject to criminally possibly a misdemeanor or felony charges. With regards to TSA, you’ll be subject to a civil penalty of up to $13,300.”
And you’ll most likely miss your flight.
So far this year, Memphis TSA Agents found three loaded weapons in January.