Updated August 10, 2020 - 1:31 pm
Despite significantly lower passenger volumes at airports across the nation, including McCarran International Airport, security agents are seeing an increase in the number of guns packed in carry-on baggage.
In July, Las Vegas’ McCarran airport saw seven guns discovered by Transportation Security Administration officers, the agency reported Monday.
Nationally, TSA agents found 301 guns for a rate of 15 guns per million passengers in July, up from the five guns per 1 million people seen in July 2019.
The higher rate of detection comes despite TSA agents screening 75 percent fewer passengers in July compared with the same month last year.
“TSA is diligently working to ensure our employees and passengers are safe and secure while traveling during a pandemic, and yet we are noticing a significant increase in loaded firearms coming into checkpoints,” TSA Administrator David Pekoske said in a statement. “Travelers must understand that firearms are prohibited items at airports and in the passenger cabins of aircraft. As hard as we are working to mitigate other risks at this time, no one should be introducing new ones.”
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport saw the most guns discovered in July with 27. Denver International Airport and Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport were next with 13, followed by Nashville International Airport with 12, Dallas Love Field Airport and Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport with nine, and Orlando International Airport and Phoenix’s Sky Harbor International Airport with eight.
Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and Lambert International Airport in St. Louis joined McCarran with seven firearms discovered.
About 80 percent of the guns found in carry-on bags in July were loaded, making the increase even more concerning for officials.
“TSA is reporting a spike in guns detected at airport checkpoints,” McCarran airport tweeted Monday. “As a reminder, bringing a gun to the checkpoint, whether in your bag or on your belt, will result in a hefty fine.”
Travelers are advised that packing a gun in a carry-on bag comes with a recommended penalty of $2,205 for an unloaded firearm and starts at $4,100 for a loaded gun. The penalty can be as high as $10,250 per violation.
“Travelers need to know that if they bring a gun to the security checkpoint, regardless of whether it is in a handbag, knapsack, roller-bag or strapped to their belt, it will be an inconvenient and expensive mistake on their part,” Pekoske said.