TSA Collected 1.4 Million in Fines From Gun-Toting Passengers Last Year

Oct 21, 2018

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The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) issued fines totaling $1.45 million USD last year, according to a report by The Washington Post. The Washington Post obtained this information thanks to a request made under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The report also revealed that the number one source of civil penalties levied by the TSA was due to passengers or crew attempting to bring firearms through security checkpoints.

More than 4,000 actions were filed against travelers or crew who attempted to bring a firearm through security checkpoints. This number includes travelers or visitors to major international airports that were found to have a loaded weapon even if they weren’t traveling. The majority of firearm-related incidents occurred at airports in the southern and western United States.

Roughly a quarter of all firearms confiscated by the TSA were found at the following airports: Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International (ATL); Dallas-Fort Worth International (DFW); George Bush Intercontinental in Houston (IAH); Phoenix Sky Harbor International (PHX); Denver International (DEN); and Dallas Love Field (DAL).

The majority of firearms found by the TSA (96%, or 3,932 firearms) were discovered by agents at screening checkpoints. 10 claims were the result of improperly packed firearms in checked luggage (it is not illegal to travel with properly packed firearms in checked bags). The TSA and law enforcement also found two firearms at Known Crew member checkpoints, checkpoints used exclusively by select airline crew members.

If 4,000 seems like a rather large number, it is. The TSA noted that there has been an increase in the number of loaded firearms confiscated at security checkpoints in the past few years. According to the TSA, an average of 76 firearms are found at checkpoints each week. This is especially concerning not only for the security implications but also due to the inconvenience a loaded firearm causes at security screening checkpoints.

US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers inspect airline passengers before they board their flights, at LambertSt. Louis International Airport in St Louis, Missouri, October 10, 2016. / AFP / Robyn Beck (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers inspect airline passengers before they board their flights, at LambertSt. Louis International Airport in St Louis, Missouri, October 10, 2016. / AFP / Robyn Beck (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

Bringing a firearm into the security screening checkpoint or sterile area is quite obviously a serious offense. However, the TSA and law enforcement are somewhat limited in their ability to levy penalties on offenders. The maximum federal penalty for bringing a loaded firearm through a screening area is just $13,000, and only local law enforcement can issue criminal charges. While $13,000 is a sizable fine, it is not an extreme amount. Additionally, individuals who attempt to bring a firearm through security rarely receive jail time and arrest is not guaranteed. Nonetheless, it is a crime and can create a major inconvenience for travelers and law enforcement.

H/T: The Washington Post

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