NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — During the week of September 13-20, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reported eight loaded firearms at security checkpoints in Tennessee. This includes at least one in every major airport in the state.
TSA regional spokesman, Mark Howell, says this is the first time since 2015 that at least one loaded gun has been found at every major Tennessee airport in a one week time frame.
TSA officials released this list of locations, discovery dates and weapon types:
Nashville International Airport (BNA)
- 9/14/2020; loaded Sig Sauer .380 caliber
- 9/17/2020; loaded Sig Sauer .380 caliber
- 9/17/2020; loaded North American Arms Derringer .22 caliber
- 9/18/2020; loaded Ruger 9mm
Memphis International Airport (MEM)
- 9/18/2020; loaded Smith & Wesson 9mm
McGhee Tyson Airport (TYS)
- 9/20/2020; loaded Smith & Wesson .40 caliber
Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport (CHA)
- 9/18/2020; loaded Glock .380 caliber
Tri-Cities Airport (TRI)
- 9/17/2020; loaded Ruger 9mm
TSA officers notified law enforcement each time a weapon was discovered. The weapons and passengers were then removed from the checkpoint area.
“In almost every case it’s almost always a personal firearm or handgun. In almost every instance they say ‘oops I forgot it was in my bag.’ Ninety nine point nine percent of the time that’s the case,” Howell said.
According to Howell it can be a costly mistake. He says if you bring an unloaded weapon to a TSA checkpoint, you may be handed a two thousand dollar civil penalty. If the gun is loaded, it doubles to a four thousand dollar fine.
Firearms are prohibited in carry-on baggage. They may be transported in checked baggage, so long as they are declared to the airline, locked in a proper carrying case and unloaded.
To watch a TSA tutorial on packing firearms, click here.
Even with much lower than normal passenger numbers, we continue to find firearms at a very high rate at security checkpoints. Passengers must remember they’re responsible for the contents of bags and our advice is they thoroughly inspect all personal belongings to make sure there are no illegal or prohibited items before coming to the airport.Steve Wood, TSA Federal Security Director for Tennessee
“We’re seeing about a seventy five percent decrease in passenger volumes as a opposed to last year and in previous years. So to be finding more firearms in some cases at airports, it’s surprising. The rate of guns is going up,” Howell said.
TSA officers said they’ve detected 106 firearms at Tennessee airports so far this year. A total of 139 were detected across the state last year. For more information about TSA prohibited items, click here.
“We’re asking passengers really to pay attention to what they have with them in their bags and take a quick five minutes before you head out to the airport to make sure that you don’t have those firearms, or any other prohibited items for that matter in your bags,” Howell said.