NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Three handguns were discovered in a matter of only three hours by TSA officials at airports in Memphis, Knoxville and Nashville.
“The concern is about 85-90-percent of the firearms we find at the checkpoint are loaded, so it’s a safety concern for not only other passengers but also for our work force,” said Mark Howell, Regional Spokesperson for TSA.
It was around 5:30 a.m. Monday when the Transportation Security Administration discovered a 9mm handgun with a loaded magazine in a passenger’s carry-on bag, marking the 25th firearm detected by TSA officers at BNA security checkpoints so far this year.
“TSA in Tennessee has already always had a high rate of firearms detected at checkpoints. To give you kind of a little bit of background with that, last year we had relatively low threw points because of COVID-19 but we still found 94 firearms at Nashville checkpoints,” Howell explained.
He went on to say that they are finding firearms at almost three times the rate in Tennessee as they do the national level. Howell points out that it’s common for states that have open carry laws like Tennessee, Texas and Florida to have a higher rate of guns discovered at airports, but with lower than normal passenger numbers we are looking at an alarming rate for 2021.
“The troubling part though, we expect we will see volume pick up for the summer so that number could really go higher. That’s why we are really talking about this now, because we want people to pay attention to what they are doing. Do a double check of your bag before you come to the airport to make sure you don’t have those firearms and other prohibited items in your bag,” said Howell.
It’s a mistake that he said can be costly. In addition to potential criminal charges, passengers who bring firearms to a checkpoint face civil penalties from TSA.
“Which can go up to a maximum of $13,300 dollars so a very costly mistake for forgetting to make sure that you’ve taken that firearm out,” stated Howell.
For more information on traveling with your firearm click here.