“Our technology is very good, and our officers are very well trained.”
It would appear TSA regional spokesperson Jennifer Mayle’s assessment of the woman and men screening people at the nation’s airports is accurate. One indicator of the agency’s capability is the ever-increasing number of firearms it has intercepted from the carry-on bags of air travel passengers.
“It’s a growing problem. We really want to get the word out. You know… this is definitely a passenger responsibility issue,” said Mayle.
Minus the pandemic year of 2020 when air travel in the US was down, the number of confiscated firearms at airports has grown larger each year. 2022 set a record; 6,542 guns were found.
At the Indianapolis International Airport, the trend is also upward with 68 firearms collected during security screening.
Mayle said, “When we ask passengers when they come through what happened, they overwhelmingly say, ‘Oh, my gosh. I just forgot the gun was in my bag.’ “
Whether intentional or not, penalties can be serious. The TSA can impose fines of up to $15,000. A person found in possession of a gun can also face criminal prosecution, although it’s rare here.
A spokesperson for Marion County prosecutor Ryan Mears tells FOX59 says the catch is a state law that requires proof the individual knowingly and intentionally brought the gun to the airport. Just six people were charged last year with ‘entering a controlled access area of the airport while possessing a firearm.’ “
The most notable of the cases included one man who had a prior felony conviction and another who was found with a gun at the airport just two years earlier.
The only way travelers can bring their firearms on flights is to pack them unloaded and locked in a hard-sided case. The traveler must also disclose they are checking in a weapon to the airline and sign a form.
One additional penalty for bringing a gun to an airport can sting for those who hate standing in security lines: the potential loss of TSA-precheck privileges for up to five years.
Mayle says the problem boils down to passengers being responsible, “They really need to think twice, pack smart, and stop bringing these guns to the checkpoint. It’s incredibly dangerous.”