TSA Cashes In On Gun Carrying Passengers
By Sharelle Burt
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is cashing in on civil penalties worth about $1.45 million against travelers who violated firearms regulations at airports around the country last year.
In 2017, TSA filed more than 4,000 actions against travelers carrying guns, according to data obtained from a request made under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Many of the civil claims came from some of the busiest hubs in the South or West. Airports like ATL’s Hartsfield-Jackson International, Dallas-Fort Worth International, George Bush Intercontinental in Houston, Phoenix Sky Harbor International, Denver International, and Dallas Love Field count for one-quarter of the claims.
For years, the TSA has filed reports of the numbers of firearms at airport checkpoints since the number of people flying and the amount of people legally carrying firearms has gone up. As an obvious safety threat to those inside the airport and on the plane, the agency has expressed concern that these findings cause disruptions at security checkpoints when a gun is found.
An example occurred earlier this week when a woman was arrested at Reagan National Airport for having a loaded 9mm pistol, including a round chambered and ready to fire in her carry on. The incident marked the 13th time this year that someone screened by security at the airport was found with a firearm. Inquiring minds want to know why she needed such a weapon in an airport but that information wasn’t identified in the TSA news release.
Under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), TSA doesn’t have to identify those caught with firearms due to privacy restrictions. The data doesn’t even include individual case numbers as the TSA considers those private, too.
With almost 96 percent of claims made against passengers with guns caught in carry-on luggage going through security screening, there are still plenty of claims filed against passengers who pack firearms in checked luggage. It’s legal but frowned upon. Firearms must be packed a specific way and must make it known when the bag is checked. Still, a few were found in other locations, including in “sterile” areas that are free of threats because passengers must be screened to enter those airport zones.
Some of the scariest claims were against passengers that brought firearms into “known crewmember portals.” These are special lanes set up at some airports so that flight crews can bypass regular screening lines with a special badge. This program, which is a federally approved joint initiative of Airlines for America, the industry’s lobbying arm, and the Air Line Pilots Association International, is designed to make screening more efficient by taking flight crews out of the regular lines.