According to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), U.S. airplane travelers seem to be unaware that it is illegal to carry firearms through carry-on baggage security checkpoints. As a result, the TSA located 4,239 in airline travelers’ carry-on bags last year, which is a seven percent increase over the numbers found in 2017 and the largest number in agency history. This averages out to TSA agents discovering about 12 firearms per day.
TSA’s discovery of firearms occurred at 249 of the 440 airports nationwide where TSA agents screen passengers. Of the firearms that TSA found in carry-on luggage, 86% were loaded with ammunition, and 34% had a round of ammunition in their chambers. TSA found the largest number of firearms in carry-on baggage at the Atlanta airport (298 firearms), followed by Dallas/Fort Worth (219), Phoenix (129), Denver (126), and Orlando (123). As far as the total number of firearms found in airports in any state, Texas leads the nation, with over 300 firearm found in passengers’ carry-on luggage in two North Texas airports last year.
Historically, when TSA caught airline passengers attempting to take a firearm through a carry-on baggage security checkpoint, the passengers were subject to immediate arrest. Firearm possession laws, however, differ by jurisdiction, although TSA can impose civil fines of up to $13,333 for each violation, and higher fines for repeated violations. It is up to local law enforcement authorities to decide whether to seize the firearms from the passengers.
Anecdotal evidence from around the country has suggested that TSA and/or local law enforcement authorities are increasingly allowing passengers caught with firearms to return them to their vehicles, rather than being arrested or fined. However, there is no hard evidence of any such change in prior policy and procedures. When you are charged with any type of criminal offense in the state of Texas, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent your interests from the very beginning of your case. Taking steps to get you released from jail and fight for your rights at the outset of your case is typically easier than waiting until your case has progressed. Contact Peek & Toland at (512) 474-4445 today and set up an appointment to speak with our legal team.