Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers are intercepting firearms at airports across the state at a disproportionally higher rate than last year when there were far more passengers traveling. Most of the guns are loaded; some even with ammunition chambered.
Year-to-date, 38 guns have been stopped at Miami International Airport compared to 32 during the same period last year. Seven guns have been intercepted in 2020 at Destin-Ft. Walton Beach Airport compared to four in the same period in 2019. At St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport, eight guns have been stopped when last year the number in early October had reached two.
A total of 60 guns have been intercepted by the TSA at Orlando International Airport with 69 during the same period last year. At Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport 55 guns have been stopped year-to-date, with 74 last year as of this date. At Jacksonville International Airport, 23 guns were kept out of the cabin of your flight this year compared to 31 at this time last year. At Tampa International Airport, TSA officers stopped 51 so far in 2020 compared to 57 in the comparable period a year ago. But across the state - and across the nation - passenger volumes are vastly lower at all airports this year.
Passengers bringing a firearm to a TSA federal security checkpoint will be assessed a civil penalty up to $13,669 and this civil penalty is independent of whether you are arrested or face criminal charges from our law enforcement partners.
Passengers are responsible for knowing what the laws are on each side of their trip. This is especially important if you are leaving the state. Even after learning that you may bring your gun to your destination, the only way it can be transported is in checked luggage. The gun must be declared to the airline at check-in, unloaded and placed in a locked, hard-sided case.
“Certainly during a global pandemic, travelers are facing stress, but please know where your gun is before you head to the airport,” said TSA Spokesperson Sari Koshetz. “And make sure you don’t bring it to the checkpoint.”
In addition to this important reminder about guns, here are additional stress-reducing travel tips:
Separate food for X-ray screening. Passengers should place their carry-on food items into a clear plastic bag and place that bag into a bin. Food items often trigger an alarm during the screening process; separating the food from the carry-on bag lessens the likelihood that a TSA officer will need to open the carry-on bag and remove the food items for a closer inspection. This requirement allows social distancing, reduces the TSA officer’s need to touch a person’s container of food and reduces potential for cross-contamination. TSA Precheck members do not need to remove items from their bags.
Remember 3-1-1. Liquids, gels and aerosols shoulc be 3.4 ounces or less in carry-on bags except in response to COVID-19, TSA is allowing one liquid hand sanitizer container, up to 12 ounces per passenger, in carry-on bags. Passengers are required to remove the hand sanitizer from the carry-on bag before being submitted for X-ray screening.
Maintain social distancing. Passengers should maintain social distance from other travelers throughout their security experience – in the queue, through the screening process, while collecting items from bins and after completing the security screening process.
Wear facial protection. TSA officers are wearing facial protection. Travelers at many airports are required to wear face protection as well. Passengers may need to adjust their masks during the screening process.
Skip the bins. Travelers are encouraged to remove items such as belts and items from their pockets, like wallets, keys and phones, and put them directly into their carry-on bags instead of into the bins to reduce touch-points during the screening process.
The TSA reminds passengers that in addition to guns, knives, tools greater than 7 inches and martial arts devices are not permitted in carry-on bags.