EL PASO, Texas – The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has discovered two firearms at the TSA security screening checkpoint at El Paso International Airport (ELP) so far this month, bringing the total for the year to seven.
The firearms, discovered Sept. 1 and 9, were found in passengers’ carry-on bags during X-ray screening at the security checkpoint. Per standard procedure, TSA alerted law enforcement. The El Paso Police Department responded, took possession of the weapons and interviewed the passengers, who were later allowed to continue to their flights.
“We’re concerned that already this year, we’ve found seven firearms at ELP,” said Tim Berroyer, TSA federal security director for ELP. “For the last two years, we’ve found seven for the entire year, so this is a good opportunity to remind passengers once again that they can’t bring firearms to the checkpoint.”
Firearms and ammunition, along with firearm parts and realistic replicas, cannot be carried through any TSA security checkpoint. These items are only allowed in checked bags, if declared to the airline and properly packed–unloaded–in a locked, hard-sided container.
Nationwide, TSA officers have found more than 2,200 firearms at airport checkpoints so far this year. In 2015, TSA found 2,653 firearms in carry-on bags at airports, which was a 20 percent increase over 2014.
TSA has the authority to levy a civil penalty of up to $12,000 against a passenger who brings a firearm to the checkpoint. The average penalty for a loaded firearm is $3,000, and $1,500 for an unloaded firearm. Any determination about a criminal charge is up to law enforcement.
TSA’s website has details on how to properly travel with a firearm. Airlines may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition.