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Surge in Guns Found in Carry On Bags Prompts Talk of Stiffer Fines

With a surge in guns discovered at airport checkpoints, some security experts are suggesting higher fines and even putting violators on a no-fly list to prevent firearms from getting on planes, the Associated Press reports. Airport screeners found 5,972 guns last year, easily breaking a record set in 2019 despite a drop in air travel, and eighty six percent of those guns were loaded, says the Transportation Security Administration. It’s against federal regulations to pack a gun in a carry-on bag. People caught are rarely prosecuted, but they can face fines ranging from $1,500 to $13,910. Guns seizures are rising as airlines report record numbers of disruptive passengers. Together, that “makes for a toxic combination,” says Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ).


At the House transportation-security subcommittee, which Coleman chairs, airport officials and some lawmakers argued for raising the fines. Balram Bheodari, general manager of Atlanta’s airport said fines should rise and violators should be required to attend gun-safety classes. He said Congress should consider putting violators on the federal no-fly list until they complete safety training, and suspending them from quick-screening programs such as PreCheck. However, Rep. Carlos Gimenez (R-FL) said most people who bring a gun to the airport say they forgot it was in their carry-on bag and that higher fines won’t reduce the number of guns found at checkpoints. Federal rules allow unloaded guns to be placed in checked bags that go into the cargo hold. They must be in a locked case, and passengers are required to tell the airline about the gun.

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