NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced a record number of firearms were found in carry-on luggage of travelers at South Carolina airports in 2021. Officials say 72 firearms were found during routine screening across the state.
TSA officers say the number of firearms found through security checkpoints at the Charleston International Airport went from 12 in 2020 to 30 in 2021.
“TSA’s mission is to make sure we can get passengers from point a to point b as safely and efficiently as possible. Firearms hinder that,” says Mark Howell, the Regional Spokesperson for TSA.
In 2021, TSA screened more than 5 million travelers leaving South Carolina airports and one firearm was discovered for every 77,135 passengers. Howell says passengers tend to forget TSA checkpoint firearm regulations before boarding.
“It’s usually grab your keys, wallet and gun when you get out the door. Travelers need to know that you really got to flip that mindset when you are traveling, or law enforcement will get involved,” he says.
Even if a traveler has a concealed weapons permit, firearms are not allowed through TSA checkpoints, but they are allowed in checked luggage.
“If they are packaged properly and you leave it at the ticket counter for your airline, we have no issue with it. It goes in the underside of the aircraft and as long as its packaged safe, no issue,” Howell says.
Officials say any travelers who break the rules can receive thousands of dollars in fines and will get their TSA Pre-Check status terminated.
“The fine can go up toward $13,900. The average is usually $2,000 to $3,000 for unloaded and towards $4,000 for a loaded firearm,” says Howell.
TSA officers say doing a quick five-minute check before you get to the airport will help traveling become safer and more efficient.
“It’s going to help operations move better for us and it’s also going to keep you out of trouble. It’s going to keep you from getting a penalty from law enforcement and a civil penalty from us,” says Howell.
TSA says if you are unsure of the firearm rules and regulations you can find them listed online at www.tsa.gov.