TSA reports spike in firearms at North Carolina airports in 2021
WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has released new figures about the number of firearms found in travelers’ carry-on luggage at airports in North Carolina.
The firearms were found by TSA officers during screening of carry-on property at airport security checkpoints.
In 2021, TSA officers found a total of 254 firearms at the state’s 10 airports which is more than double the 2020 figure of 105.
Similar to the statewide trend, the number of weapons found in 2021 at Wilmington International Airport was six which is twice as many TSA officers found in 2020.
At the state’s largest airports, there were 106 firearms found in carry-on luggage at Charlotte Douglas International in 2021, and 100 found the same year at Raleigh-Durham International.
For the last three years, no firearms have been found in passengers’ luggage at Pitt-Greenville Airport in Greenville.
The following table shows the number of firearms TSA officers found at each of the state’s airports during the last four years.
|Charlotte Douglas Int’l (CLT)||76||74||55||106|
|Raleigh-Durham Int’l (RDU)||66||70||33||100|
|Piedmont Triad Int’l (GSO)||14||18||6||12|
|Asheville Regional (AVL)||2||13||5||15|
|Wilmington Int’l (ILM)||7||9||3||6|
|Fayetteville Regional (FAY)||6||3||2||4|
|Albert J. Ellis Airport (OAJ)||4||2||1||5|
|Concord-Padgett Regional (JQF)||4||1||0||4|
|Coastal Carolina Regional (EWN)||0||4||0||2|
|Pitt-Greenville Airport (PGV)||1||0||0||0|
|North Carolina total:||180||194||105||254|
In 2021, TSA screened approximately 585 million passengers and crew at airports nationwide. That figure represents an 81 percent increase over the approximately 324 million screened in 2020.
Statewide in 2021, TSA screened approximately 15.56 million departing travelers at North Carolina airports, matching the national increase of 81 percent.
Nationwide, a firearm was detected for every 97,999 passengers screened. In North Carolina, the rate was even higher with one firearm discovered for every 61,275 passengers screened.
In addition to potential criminal citations, travelers face civil penalties for bringing firearms to the security checkpoint and TSA evaluates each firearm incident on a case-by-case basis. Among the factors TSA considers when determining the civil penalty amount includes whether the firearm was loaded and whether there was accessible ammunition.
The civil penalty can go up to a maximum of $13,900 per violation. Even if a traveler has a concealed weapons permit, firearms are not permitted in carry-on luggage.
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 duration of the disqualification will depend upon the seriousness of the offense and if there is a repeated history of violations.
Firearms can be transported on a commercial aircraft only if they are unloaded, packed in a locked, hard-sided case and placed in checked baggage. Any type of replica firearm is prohibited in carry-on baggage and must be transported in checked luggage.
At the airport during the check-in process, a passenger needs to go to the airline ticket counter to declare the firearm, ammunition and any firearm parts. Prior to traveling, passengers are encouraged to check gun laws and regulations at their destination to ensure they are in compliance with local and state laws. TSA also recommends travelers check with their airline prior to their flight to ensure they comply with any airline-specific requirements.
Travelers can use the “Can I Bring?” feature on the TSA website or on the TSA mobile app, myTSA. Travelers can also Tweet or Message “@AskTSA” if they have a travel question or are unsure if an item is allowed through security in a carry-on bag. Just snap a picture or send a question and get real-time assistance weekdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST.