Travel Tip: Search Your Bags Before TSA Does

With Memorial Day weekend and the busiest travel weeks of the year approaching, it’s probably a good idea to remember some very basic realities about airline travel, especially when it comes to firearms and ammunition.

With the enormous increase in the number of persons who legally carry firearms for personal protection, it’s no surprise a growing number of law-abiding (but forgetful) American travelers are being found with handguns inside their carry-on baggage at airport Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoints.

The TSA reports 680 firearms were found at airport security checkpoints through May 1.
The TSA reports 680 firearms were found
at airport security checkpoints through May 1.

The last two years have seen a record number of discoveries/confiscations occur at the nation’s airports, and 2014 is on track to surpass both previous years. Most agree the growing number of incidents is due to the increase in the number of persons who legally carry firearms for personal protection and the liberalization of carry laws in many states. Another reason is simple forgetfulness and the lack of experience by many who have recently been licensed or permitted to legally carry in their state.

According to The TSA Blog, which updates airport gun discoveries weekly, a total of 680 firearms were found at security checkpoints through May 1, 2014, reflecting a 30 percent increase for the first four months of this year, compared to 2013.

In 2013, a total of 364 guns were confiscated by TSA agents at U.S. airports from Jan. 1 to March 31, as passengers tried to carry them aboard — 45 more than the first quarter of 2012. The trend continued in April 2013, with 159 firearms found, versus 120 in April 2012.

Among the numerous components of the comprehensive pro-gun legislation signed into law in April by Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal was a provision that will allow those holding a valid state concealed Weapons Carry License (WCL) who accidentally carries a firearm to an airport TSA security checkpoint to retain their gun without criminal charges. The measure is especially significant to those Georgia WCL holders who travel frequently, because Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport has been the country’s leading airport for gun confiscations by security officials for several consecutive years.

In 2013, a total of 111 firearms were discovered being carried by those preparing to board planes in Atlanta, either in their carry-on luggage or on their person.  The next highest number of discoveries — 96 — took place at the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport. It was followed by George Bush Intercontinental (Houston) with 68, Phoenix Sky Harbor with 66, and Denver International with 51.

In recent years, the most-discovered firearm type at airport checkpoints is the .380 cal., with 520 found in 2013. It was also the most-found caliber for the 2012 calendar year.

By caliber, the .380 (28 percent) was followed by the 9 mm. (18 percent), .22 cal. (11 percent), .40 cal. (11 percent), and .38 cal. (10 percent).

Do you currently have a permit to carry a concealed weapon for personal protection? Do you take special precautions when you travel by air to ensure you haven’t accidentally forgotten a handgun or ammunition inside your luggage or carry-on items?





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