4 guns found in 1 day at Tampa International Airport

Transportation Security Administration

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Officials at Tampa International Airport say four passengers had loaded firearms with them when they went through TSA screening checkpoints on Tuesday.  It’s a single-day record at Tampa International Airport.

At 10 a.m., agents found a loaded Glock .45 caliber pistol in a passenger’s carry-on bag.  

Two hours later, they discovered a loaded Kel-Tec .380 in a different passenger’s carry-on.

Thirty minutes after that incident, a loaded Glock .380 was discovered, followed by a loaded Ruger .380 a couple hours later at 4:30 p.m.

If that’s not frightening enough, the number of firearms detected at screening points is going up.

TSA agents alerted Tampa Airport Police, and the hassle of flying became a nightmare for the gun owners.

“The most common excuse we get when we discover these firearms at the checkpoint is, that they either forgot it was in the bag or that somebody else, like or a husband or wife packed their bag for ’em,” said TSA Regional Spokesperson, Mark Howell.

But, that won’t get you out of trouble. If you bring it to the airport, you are responsible.

The penalty can be costly. Airport Police take over when a gun is detected.

“They can arrest you. You could potentially miss your flight. But, on top of all that, you can also receive a civil penalty,” said Howell.

At TIA in 2014 and 2015, TSA found 49 people with a gun each year.

Last year, they found 79 guns.

So far this year, the total stands at 34.

Passengers at TIA got a good look at the guns found on Tuesday and offered their reactions.

“I’m glad for the TSA. I think it’s a good thing that they located those weapons. It’s not a good thing to hide those,” said Kenny Lewis.

“I can’t believe somebody tried to do that. With all the tight security we have. Unbelievable,” said Art Moran.

“It’s unacceptable. Something that may or may not, it’s no malicious intent perhaps, but by all means, it should not happen. Period,” said Rick Cole.

Every one of the passengers at TIA found with a gun in their carry-on time this time has a concealed weapons permit. Tampa Airport cops let them leave, stash their gun and return.

The TSA spokesman said, in almost every incident, violators must pay a civil penalty that can range from a few hundred dollars to $11,000.

Law enforcement was alerted following each incident and came to collect the carry-ons and escort the passengers away from the checkpoint area.

The TSA wants to remind passengers that firearms are prohibited in carry-on bags.

“Passengers are responsible for the contents of bags they bring to the checkpoint,” said Mark Howell, TSA Regional Spokesperson. “Our advice is to look through bags thoroughly before coming to the airport to make sure there are no illegal or prohibited items.”

Agents at Tampa International have found 34 firearms at security checkpoints in 2017. A total of 79 were found there in 2016.

There is no word on whether these passengers were charged, but passengers who bring firearms to a checkpoint can face criminal charges and steep civil penalties.


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