A Record Number of Passengers Are Bringing Guns to TSA Checkpoints Across Florida and Most Are Loaded With Ammunition

Local Press Release
Friday, September 24, 2021

Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers across the State of Florida have seen a surge in passengers bringing guns to airport checkpoints, breaking a record in Ft. Lauderdale.

TSA officers stopped three guns yesterday at Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL,) all of which were loaded. Yesterday TSA officers also intercepted three guns at Miami International Airport (MIA), two of them were loaded. And today TSA officers stopped three guns at Orlando International Airport (MCO) and another three guns last Friday. All six of those at MCO were loaded.

“This is a troubling trend and one that threatens the safety of other passengers and our officers,” said TSA spokesperson Sari Koshetz. “You see the way some travelers fling their bags onto the x-ray belt for screening, posing the risk of an accidental discharge with tragic results.”

With the three guns stopped yesterday at Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, more passengers than ever have brought guns to the checkpoints in that airport in a given year.  The total is now 103 year-to-date. The previous record was 100 in 2019.  The total at MCO is now 80 and at MIA it is now 51 year-to-date. TSA officers at Tampa International Airport intercepted four guns in one day back in May with the year’s total so far at 71. Across the state 456 passengers have brought guns to the checkpoints, the same as in all of 2020.

“And with more than three months still to go in 2021, the stage is set for an unfortunate and dangerous record, a record that no airport wants to set,” said Koshetz, “but many will top 2019’s gun numbers even while passenger volumes still remain lower than in that pre-pandemic year.”

Passengers face a civil penalty from the TSA that can reach as much as $13,910 and that is imposed regardless of whether the individual is arrested by our law enforcement partners.  If the traveler is in the TSA PreCheck® program, those privileges will be lost for a period of time. And repeat offenders may lose their privileges permanently.

FLL, TPA and MCO are typically in the top 10 or 11 airports across the country for passengers violating the federal law. If you are going to travel with your gun, it must be in checked baggage and it is up to the traveler to know what the laws are on the other side of their trip.

The TSA offers serious tips for navigating the airport checkpoint.  The first is to leave your gun at home or be sure to declare it to the airline upon check-in, have the gun unloaded and in a locked, hard-sided case and check that bag! 

Here are six tips for getting through the TSA checkpoint as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Tip 1: No guns in carry-ons. Airline passengers can fly with firearms only in checked baggage. All firearms must be properly packed and declared at check-in. Contact your airline for additional guidance. And it is your responsibility to know what the gun laws are on both sides of your trip.

Tip 2: Wear a face mask. You must. The federal face mask mandate for travelers remains in place for any location inside an airport or on a plane. Those who refuse to wear a mask face steep fines from the TSA. 

Tip 3: Leave all prohibited items at home. To reduce the likelihood of a bag search at the checkpoint, search your own bag before leaving home. Unsure if it’s allowed: use the “What Can I Bring?” page on TSA.gov.

Tip 4: Prepare for the security checkpoint. Have a valid ID card readily available. Follow the liquids rule of 3.4 ounces or less, with the exception of hand sanitizer, which has a temporary 12-ounce limit in carry-on baggage.

Tip 5: Help is available. Get live assistance by tweeting your questions and comments to @AskTSA in English or Spanish or via Facebook Messenger. You can also call the TSA Contact Center at 866-289-9673.

Tip 6: Enroll now in TSA PreCheck®. Travel with Ease by enrolling in TSA PreCheck and avoid removing shoes, belts, liquids, food, laptops and light jackets. Most new enrollees receive a known traveler number within five days, and membership lasts for five years.   

TSA is committed to supporting a healthy, safe and secure environment for our employees, airport personnel and airline passengers. For additional information about TSA procedures during COVID-19 as part of our “Stay Healthy. Stay Secure” campaign, visit tsa.gov.