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TSA confiscates record number of guns at airports nationally and in Florida

Daytona Beach News-Journal 2/8/2022 Clayton Park, The Daytona Beach News-Journal

DAYTONA BEACH — TSA agents in 2021 confiscated a record number of guns from passengers attempting to illegally bring them onto planes as carry-on items, both nationally as well as in Florida, including Daytona Beach International Airport.

Nationally, a total of 5,972 guns were confiscated, breaking the previous record 4,432 set in 2019. The number of guns stopped in 2020 fell to 3,257, which coincided with the big drop in air travel during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Air travel has since rebounded, as have the number of travelers attempting to illegally bring guns onto passenger planes as carry-on items. 

In Florida, a total of 666 guns were intercepted by TSA agents last year, a 26% increase from the previous all-time high of 529 in 2018 as well as the 528 in 2019.

Two Florida airports were among the top 10 nationally for most guns intercepted in 2021: Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International had 128 guns stopped, while Orlando International had 124.

Daytona Beach International Airport saw TSA agents intercept six guns in 2021, which tied the record both in 2016 and 2017 as well as in 2018, according to TSA spokeswoman Sari Koshetz.

TSA agents at the Daytona airport stopped five guns in 2019 and three in 2020.

a person standing in front of a counter: In this file photo from May, Sari Koshetz, a Transportation Security Administration spokeswoman, looks at a display of some of the items that TSA officials have had to take from departing air travelers at Daytona Beach International Airport. Guns confiscated from airports hit record numbers nationally and in Florida in 2021. Daytona Beach International Airport tied a previous record with six guns confiscated. © Clayton Park/News-Journal In this file photo from May, Sari Koshetz, a Transportation Security Administration spokeswoman, looks at a display of some of the items that TSA officials have had to take from departing air travelers at Daytona Beach International Airport. Guns confiscated from airports hit record numbers nationally and in Florida in 2021. Daytona Beach International Airport tied a previous record with six guns confiscated.

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'Troubling trend'

"Any number is a dangerous number as most guns brought to airports are loaded," said Koshetz. "This troubling trend threatens the safety of other passengers and our officers."

Four of the six guns TSA agents took off the hands of air travelers at the Daytona Beach airport last year were loaded. One of those guns, a Sig Sauer semi-automatic, was both loaded and chambered, meaning that it was ready to fire with a pull of the trigger, said Koshetz.

"Just because you have a gun permit, that doesn't mean you can bring it into the cabin of a passenger plane," she said. "The only people permitted to carry a gun on a jetliner are federal air marshals and pilots who have become certified to be federal flight deck officers. And for the latter, that's only on days when they are piloting the aircraft."

In Florida, the number of guns confiscated in 2021 at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International was 28 more than the airport's previous record of 100 in 2019. Orlando International's total last year was one more than the previous record 123 intercepted in 2018.

Tampa International Airport had the state's third-highest total number of guns intercepted last year (105), including four confiscated on the same day in May. Its previous record was 97 in 2017.

Miami International had Florida's fourth-highest total in 2021 with 80 guns stopped, up from the previous record of 60 in 2020.

Also setting records in 2021 were Southwest Florida International with 39 guns stopped, Pensacola International (36) and Destin-Fort Walton Beach (15).

Jacksonville International saw TSA agents intercept 42 guns in 2021, up from 36 the previous year, but down from the record 50 stopped in 2019.

Severe penalties for offenders

Passengers face a civil penalty from the TSA of up to $13,910 which they must pay regardless of whether they wind up getting arrested, according to a news release from the federal agency.

"It is important that travelers continue to adhere to TSA guidelines, rules and regulations as it pertains to prohibited items," said Cyrus Callum, director of aviation and economic resources for Volusia County, which includes Daytona Beach International Airport. "Failure will result in confiscation and possible prosecution."

Air travelers found to be illegally attempting to bring a gun on a plane as a carry-on item who are enrolled in the TSA's PreCheck program will have those privileges temporarily suspended. Repeat offenders may lose those privileges permanently.

Passengers who feel compelled to travel with a gun must put it in their checked baggage and declare it before boarding, according to the TSA. Koshetz added that it is also the traveler's responsibility to know beforehand gun laws on the other side of their trip.

What guns were stopped at Daytona

This is one of six handguns that TSA agents confiscated from passengers trying to illegally bring them on to planes as a carry-on item at Daytona Beach International Airport in 2021. Four of the six guns were loaded. © Provided image This is one of six handguns that TSA agents confiscated from passengers trying to illegally bring them on to planes as a carry-on item at Daytona Beach International Airport in 2021. Four of the six guns were loaded.

Here's a rundown of the six guns were intercepted at Daytona Beach International Airport in 2021:

Feb. 2: Sig Sauer semi-automatic. Loaded and chambered.

Feb. 17: Baretta semi-automatic. Loaded.

June 18: Sig Sauer semi-automatic. Loaded.

June 23: FN Five-seven semi-automatic. Not loaded.

July 17: Sig Sauer semi-automatic. Loaded.

Oct. 27: Smith & Wesson hand gun. Not loaded. 

This article originally appeared on The Daytona Beach News-Journal: TSA confiscates record number of guns at airports nationally and in Florida

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