NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is finding a record number of firearms at checkpoints, with more than 6,300 guns intercepted this year. Nashville International Airport is also shattering records, with 206 guns found so far this year, outpacing 163 found last year.
“Ninety-nine-point nine percent of the time the excuse we get when we detect a firearm is, ‘oops, I forgot it in my bag,’” said TSA Regional Spokesperson Mark Howell.
But that will now be a more costly mistake. TSA is rising the potential penalty to $14,950 and offenders could also lose TSA Pre-Check privileges for five years. When a firearm is found at BNA, local law enforcement is called, as 80-90% of firearms discovered are loaded.
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“The states where we have more firearm detections are your open carry and conceal carry states. And the reason being is people get used to taking that firearm with them when they go out for the day. They grab their keys and their wallet and in those states, they carry their gun. And when you’re traveling you’ve got to flip that mindset,” Howell said.
BNA now ranks number four in the country for guns found at TSA checkpoints. However, Howell notes other airports in the top five, including ATL and DFW, see much more traffic than BNA.
They’re using upgraded technology to make sure no weapons fall through the cracks.
“At Nashville specifically, we’re using computed tomography technology, which gives us the ability to look at those bags in a 360 degree. So, when those come in we take a look at it, we can move the image to better look for threats,” Howell said.
TSA’s biggest advice when packing is to start with an empty bag, and don’t try to re-purpose range bags that could still have loose ammunition. Know that guns can travel with you, but must be checked.
“This is a hundred percent avoidable mistake,” Howell explained. “Just take that five minutes, take a deep breath before you leave and head out to the airport, and look in your bag to make sure you don’t have those items.”