Be Sure to Know Where Your Gun Is And That Must Not Be In Your Carry-on Bag

Local Press Release
Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Passengers:  remember to unpack before you repack for a flight and know where your gun is.  And where that is must not be in your carry-on bag!

Many travelers have driven instead of flying to locations in recent months and they may have their gun or other prohibited items in their suitcase, purse, backpack or computer bag.  Now is the time to be sure that is not the case. Dozens of travelers just this month are facing large fines from the TSA and many have been arrested for bringing a firearm to a federal checkpoint.

Passengers continue to bring firearms, knives, brass knuckles and other items that will result in a bag search and possible arrest by our law enforcement partners. Just this month, 41 guns were brought to checkpoints across the state of Florida yielding a statewide total of 445 so far this year.  Many of those passengers never made it to their desired destination due to missing their flights or heading to jail.  Thousands of pounds of prohibited items have been intercepted by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) as well and every one of those items meant a bag search during a time when touchless security experiences are more desirable than ever.

Here are the YTD totals for some of the airports in the state and the number of guns intercepted by TSA officers:  86 at Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL); 79 at Orlando International Airport (MCO) with one this morning; 71 at Tampa International; 54 guns at Miami International Airport (MIA) with one this morning; and 37 at Jacksonville International Airport. The highest numbers in December were 13 intercepted by the TSA at FLL and seven at TPA.

“With the TSA’s Stay Healthy, Stay Secure campaign, a nearly touch-free checkpoint  experience is possible if you know exactly what is inside your carry-on and you leave the prohibited items at home,” said TSA Spokesperson Sari Koshetz. “Most of the guns brought to our checkpoints have been loaded, many with ammunition chambered. An accidental discharge could have tragic consequences.”

 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. Fines may also be assessed for other threat items brought to the checkpoint.

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.

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 should be 3.4 ounces or less in carry-on bags except in response to COVID-19, TSA is allowing one liquid hand sanitizer container of 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. Arrive at the airport with enough time to not feel rushed and so that you are better able to maintain your distance.

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 briefly during the identification and 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.

Fireworks and grenades may not fly. As we enter New Year’s weekend, know that fireworks are hazardous and may not be transported on the plane in either your carry-on or in your checked bags!  And the same goes for all  hazardous material. Two smoke grenades in a passenger’s checked bags were stopped by the TSA this morning at MIA.

And finally your New Year’s resolution: Enroll in TSA PreCheck®  to expedite screening. Travelers who are enrolled in TSA PreCheck® don’t have to remove their shoes, belts, lightweight jackets, electronics or their bag of travel-size liquids and gels. Not only is that wonderfully convenient, but during a pandemic, it reduces touchpoints. Now more than ever, TSA PreCheck is a valuable program for travelers.  It’s simple to apply and while it will be too late for this week’s travel, you will receive your trusted traveler numbers before all those long weekends in 2021 through 2025.