AUSTIN, Texas — ***Editor's note: The video above is from a report in August 2018.***
Some of the things people try to bring on a plane, you would hardly believe.
“This item right here looks like an ordinary umbrella,” Austin Transportation Security Administration officer Nick Hall said. “But if you take a closer look, it’s actually another weapon.”
TSA officers across the country stop people from taking weapons onto airplanes every day.
Here in Austin, officers have seen hammers, knives, swords, grenade replicas and even loaded guns. Hall has found four of them.
“It’s really common,” Hall said. “People forget what’s in their bag, don’t check. They don’t really care what’s in their bag, I guess.”
In 2018, TSA agents found and stopped 93 guns at security checkpoints in Austin’s airport.
As of Friday, TSA agents have found 77 guns in 2019.
“I prefer it to be locked and checked appropriately through the airline gate and not on the carry-on,” Austin-Bergstrom International Airport traveler Erika Britton said. “So that is concerning, yes.”
Britton travels through Austin’s airport several times a month. She’s glad to know TSA has found fewer guns in people’s carry-on bags in 2019 compared to 2018.
But other passengers like Anthony Tzoumas aren’t as reassured as Britton.
“It surprises me that they’re not properly taking care of their firearms and they’re bringing them to the airport,” Tzoumas said. “It comforts me to know they’re being confiscated in the airports and they’re not making it on the planes, though.”
In July, KVUE showed how Austin’s airport was ranked eighth in the country for guns found last year.
The airport is well aware, according to a spokesperson.
“Out of all the top 10 lists Austin-Bergstrom International Airport has made, this is not one we want to be on,” public information officer Mandy McClendon said in a statement. “We recognize that the majority of firearm seizures are the result of folks forgetting they have one in their bag when they come to the airport. To help combat that, we’ve worked closely with our TSA partners to educate passengers on how to appropriately pack their firearms and to ensure they’re double-checking their carry-ons for these items before they get to the airport.”
Hill and other TSA agents hope as people keep traveling for the holidays, they remember to check what’s in their bag to keep lines moving quickly.
But Hill did admit finding things like Batman throwing stars in people’s bags certainly makes the job more interesting.
“It’s always fun when you find something,” Hall said. “If you go a day with just finding water bottles, it’s kind of boring. But all of this stuff right here is exciting stuff to find.”
The TSA publishes a year-in-review of gun seizures, showing which airports had the most nationwide.
That report won’t be ready until after Jan. 1, but based on 2019’s numbers so far, Austin is expected to be lower on the list.
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