CLEVELAND (WJW)– Even though fewer passengers are traveling because of the pandemic, a record number of firearms have been detected at airport security checkpoints across the U.S. in 2021, according to the Transportation Security Administration.
As of Oct. 3, TSA officers had stopped 4,495 airline passengers who were attempting to carry firearms onto their flights, surpassing the previous record of 4,432 firearms detected at checkpoints in 2019.
Responding to the nationwide trend, TSA Administrator David Pekoske said, “firearms, particularly loaded firearms, introduce an unnecessary risk at checkpoints, have no place in the passenger cabin of an airplane, and represent a very costly mistake for the passengers who attempt to board a flight with them.”
Cleveland police crime statistics obtained by the FOX 8 I-Team reveal that 34 separate cases of weapons violations have been reported so far this year at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. In a number of the cases, the passengers had concealed-carry weapon permits but told authorities that they had either forgotten that the firearms were in their luggage, or were unaware of federal regulations.
The TSA issued a news release that reads in part: “Firearm possession laws vary by state and local government. Passengers can follow proper packing guidance for firearms in checked baggage and declare them to their airline at check-in. TSA advises that travelers know the state and local firearm laws for each point of travel prior to departure to ensure they transport firearms in accordance with applicable law.
Airlines may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition, so travelers should also contact their airline regarding firearm and ammunition carriage policies prior to arriving at the airport.
When passengers bring firearms to airport checkpoints, TSA will assess a civil penalty that varies by a number of previous offenses and whether the firearm was loaded at the time.
The complete list of penalties is posted on TSA.gov. TSA PreCheck members caught with a firearm at a TSA checkpoint may lose their expedited screening privileges for three years or more.
Firearms are not permitted in the passenger cabin of an airplane; this includes travelers with a concealed weapon permit. Passengers may travel with firearms in checked baggage when they are unloaded and packed in a locked, hard-sided case.
The passenger must declare and present the case with the firearm at the airline check-in counter and inform the airline representative of their intention to travel with the firearms. Firearms are transported with checked baggage and are placed in the cargo hold of the aircraft.”