NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Amid a rise in gun sales throughout the pandemic, TSA agents say they’ve seen an increase in firearms being stored incorrectly in luggage at airports across the nation and right here in the Lowcountry.
On Tuesday, the TSA, local law enforcement, and the Charleston International Airport personnel showcased how to properly store a firearm ahead of travel.
TSA agents said with the on-going pandemic, they’ve seen a need to educate passengers with South Carolina having a 120% increase in the number of Concealed Carry Permits from 2019 to 2020.
In 2021 alone, there have been seven recorded instances of improperly packed firearms in carry-on bags. That is already more than half of the number for the entire year of 2020 which came out to 12.
Statewide in 2020, TSA said in a statement that they screened approximately 2.6 million departing travelers at the six commercial South Carolina airports, about 42.6 percent of the total number screened in 2019.
While firearms can be taken on a commercial aircraft but they must be stored safely and properly. But with the increase in gun sales, and no mandate to teach proper traveling safety in instruction courses, the TSA believes that message might not have made it to everyone.
In an effort to avoid tense circumstances at the airport, the organization and local law enforcement explained how it should be done.
According to David, McMahon, the Federal Security Director for the state of South Carolina TSA, permit holders need to plan on checking their firearms. In order to do that properly, it will need to be in a hard-sided case, unloaded, and the ammunition needs to be in its manufacturer container or in a magazine.
Additionally, it will need to be locked in the hard-sided case and then stowed in a checked bag. Finally, the traveler must introduce the firearm to their airline so that it can be declared properly.
If the proper channels are not taken, the recommended civil penalty by the TSA for a firearm starts at $2,050 and can go up to a maximum of $10,250 per violation. In addition to civil penalties, individuals who violate rules regarding traveling with firearms will have Trusted Traveler status and TSA PreCheck expedited screening benefits revoked for a period of time.
The TSA also made a plea to firearm instructors to teach how to properly pack up a firearm ahead of traveling.