NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)- A record number of firearms are being found at airport security checkpoints across the country and here at Charleston International Airport.
TSA reports that 4,495 guns have been discovered in carry-on bags throughout the US already in 2021, which surpasses the previous record of 4,432 in all of 2019. TSA officers have detected 11 firearms in carry-on bags per one million passengers so far in 2021.
The increase in passengers attempting to pass through security with firearms is being seen at Charleston International Airport as well. Data obtained by TSA indicates that 26 firearms have been found already, an increase of 44% from 2019. TSA Federal Security Director for South Carolina, Dave McMahon, said a large number of these guns are loaded.
“There’s really no excuse for why those firearms are coming into checkpoints because, at the end of the day, a firearm in a checkpoint is a risk to everybody that’s involved,” McMahon said.
Charleston International Airport ranked first among South Carolina airports for firearms found in 2021:
- CHS: 26
- CAE: 11
- MYR: 8
- GSP: 8
- FLO: 1
- HXD: 0
- Total: 54
Firearm possession laws vary by state, but McMahon said passengers could face serious consequences if attempting to bring a firearm through security, even if they have the proper carrying permit. In addition, a found firearm could result in major slowdowns at the security checkpoint.
“The response that is required is for us to stop screening and when we stop screening we call in law enforcement,” McMahon said.
McMahon also stressed the importance of making sure you know where your firearm is before arriving at the security checkpoint.
“That should be the standard for anybody that’s coming because the risk and the uncertainty of what’s going to occur at a checkpoint just raises at that point,” he said.
If you do want to travel with a firearm, it must be unloaded, packed in a locked, hard-sided container, and checked as baggage. Additional information can be found on the TSA website.