WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (CBS12) — There was a record-breaking number of firearms recovered at TSA checkpoints from across the nation last year, according to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
They say that number stands at more than 6,500 from more than 260 different airports. That’s a more than 10% increase from the previous year. Three Florida airports ranked in the top 10 last year for firearms found in carry-on luggage: Tampa International, Orlando International, and Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport.
But as CBS12's Dani Travis found out, Palm Beach International Airport also wasn't exempt from that issue. In fact, PBI had a record-breaking year of its own in 2022 when it came to recovered firearms.
TSA officials say the higher numbers is part of travel returning to pre-Covid levels.
You can see how the numbers stack up year after year, dating back to 2013, showing 2022 was a record-breaking year with 33 firearms were confiscated from people’s carry-ons. This is compared to 2020, where only 10 firearms were seized because fewer people were traveling due to Covid. The only other year that got nearly as high as 2022 was in 2017, with 32 firearms seized. While the lowest number recorded was nine firearms in 2014.
TSA Manager Joseph Aiuto says these numbers aren’t too concerning though. He says it’s mostly people who simply forgot they had their gun in their bag, rather than anyone trying to cause harm. He says TSA's primary goal is public safety, and checking for anything that would cause harm to passengers or property on the plane
The biggest thing TSA asks is for people to be responsible gun owners.
“People that know where their guns are. Keep them locked up, do not bring them through. If they do want to travel with their gun, they can travel with it in their checked luggage. They have to declare it to the airline, make sure it’s unloaded, and be locked in a hard case, then they can travel with it. If you bring it through the checkpoint, you could get a fine of up to $15,000 and they are not allowed,” said Aiuto.
Aiuto says when a firearm is identified on the X-rays through security, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office is notified, and they decide if they want to take any action following their statutes. TSA then can add a civil penalty, which can be up to a $15,000 fine.
“Check your bags before you leave, lock it up, make sure that it’s in a safe place, and when you travel you don’t want your gun in your bag,” said Aiuto.
Now we're almost three months into the year and you might be wondering how many firearms have been seized so far at PBI? TSA says so far, only one.
To see a list of what you can and can’t carry, visit here.