EL PASO, Texas — The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) found three loaded firearms in one week at the security screening checkpoint at El Paso International Airport (ELP), bringing the total so far this year to 10. In calendar year 2015, TSA at ELP intercepted a total of 7 firearms at the security checkpoint.
“Between Oct. 3 and 8, TSA officers here at El Paso found three firearms that were brought to the security screening checkpoint by three different passengers,” said TSA ELP Federal Security Director Tim Berroyer. “Firearms can only travel onboard an aircraft if they’re declared to the airline and are unloaded and properly packed in a locked, hard-sided case. Passengers can never bring them to the checkpoint.”
Per standard procedure, TSA alerts law enforcement when a firearm is found at a security checkpoint. The El Paso Police Department responds, takes possession of the weapon and interviews the passenger. Any determination about a criminal charge is up to law enforcement.
Nationwide, TSA officers have found more than 2,500 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. Ammunition, firearm parts and realistic replicas also are not allowed in carry-on bags.
TSA has the authority to levy a civil penalty of up to $11,000 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.
Additional information on traveling with firearms in checked baggage can be found online.