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Austin airport continues to see high numbers of guns carried to security checkpoints, TSA warns

The TSA has already found 16 guns so far this year, after finding 110 total in 2021.

AUSTIN, Texas — The Transportation Security Agency (TSA) is sending a warning to Austinites after finding its 16th gun at a security checkpoint this year at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS.)

Officials with the TSA announced Friday that the numbers are a cause for concern, as a majority of the weapons found have been loaded.

“The most common excuse we hear is that someone forgot their gun was in their carry-on luggage,” said Gilbert Almaraz, TSA’s acting federal security director for AUS airport. “If you own a firearm, you need to know where it is at all times. It’s part of being a responsible gun owner.”

Guns are allowed on airplanes as long as they are checked in the passenger's baggage and properly packaged and declared at the ticket counter. They must be unloaded, placed in a hard-sided locked case and packed separately from ammunition. For more information on how to properly check firearms, click here.

In 2021, the TSA found a total of 110 guns at security checkpoints. The years 2019 and 2020 saw 78 and 49 respectively, with the TSA noting decreased traffic due to the pandemic. A total of 93 were reported in 2018.

"When an individual shows up at a checkpoint with a firearm, the checkpoint lane comes to a standstill until the police resolve the incident," the TSA wrote. "Thus, guns at checkpoints can delay travelers from getting to their gates."

The TSA reserves the right to issue a civil penalty to people who bring weapons to checkpoints, which can reach thousands of dollars depending on mitigating or aggravating circumstances. This applies to travelers with or without a concealed carry permit. If a passenger is a member of TSA PreCheck, they could also lose those privileges. For a list of civil penalties, click here.

"You could face criminal penalties on top of federal civil citations that can be extremely costly, for bringing a gun to airport checkpoint," said Almaraz. "If you must travel with a firearm, follow the established rules and procedures for doing so."

Nationally, the TSA detected 5,972 guns at airport security checkpoints last year. Around 86% of those weapons were loaded.

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