Gun seizures at airports in Texas are growing regardless of much less journey

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On August 3rd, 4th and 7th, officials from the Transportation Security Agency found small arms loaded in hand luggage bags at El Paso International Airport. A week later, on Friday, August 14th, three loaded firearms were confiscated from the hand luggage of travelers at Dallas Love Field. On Sunday, August 16, a TSA officer arrested a man for holding a gun at Austin Bergstrom International Airport. In all seven cases the weapons were loaded.

Reform Austin recently reported that gun and ammunition sales in Texas skyrocketed during the pandemic, and now there is data showing more travelers are trying to take their guns on airplanes.

Transport safety officials detected firearms in hand luggage racks three times more often in July than in the same month of 2019. This is because the pandemic has caused passenger numbers to decrease by about 75% year over year.

There were 15.3 guns per million people last month, compared to 5.1 guns per million people screened in July 2019.

TSA administrator David Pekoske said that even during the pandemic, screeners were “working hard to keep employees and passengers safe”. “As hard as we are currently working to mitigate other risks, no one should introduce new ones,” he said.

“Even more worrying is that 80 percent of the firearms that come into the checkpoint are loaded and it’s just an accident waiting to happen,” said Pekoske. “Travelers need to know that it is an inconvenient and expensive mistake for them to take a weapon to the security checkpoint, regardless of whether it is in a handbag, backpack, roll bag or on a belt.”

Lt. Governor Dan Patrick has interpreted the increase in arms sales as an indication that President Donald Trump will win in November. Others believe that other factors are at work as well.

Robert Spitzer – professor of political science at the State University of New York College at Cortland and author of five books on gun policy – told the New York Times the rise in sales was due to Americans’ increasing fear of viral fear of people’s desires, a political explanation submit.

“While most Americans don’t seek safety by buying guns, some do, and they may be more willing to carry them around,” he said. “Some of that transportation extends to airports where some people obviously don’t think they shouldn’t.”

The potential federal civil penalty for an unloaded firearm starts at $ 2,050 and for a loaded gun at $ 4,100. The fine can be a maximum of $ 13,669 per violation, depending on the circumstances.

In addition to civil fines, anyone who violates the rules for traveling with firearms will be deprived of Trusted Traveler status and TSA PreCheck will be deprived of expedited verification benefits for a period of time. The duration of the disqualification depends on the seriousness of the crime and whether there have been any violations in the past.

Passengers are allowed to travel with firearms in their checked baggage if they are properly packed and declared at the airline upon check-in. Firearms must be unloaded, packed in a hard case, locked and packed separately from ammunition.

Last year, 4,432 firearms were discovered in hand luggage bags at checkpoints across the country, which corresponds to an average of 12.1 firearms per day. This corresponds to a national increase in firearms discoveries of around 5% compared to a total of 4,239 in 2018. 87% of firearms discovered at checkpoints in the last year were loaded.

Here are the TSA seizure numbers for major Texas airports.

Texas Airports 2019 (total) 2020 YTD
Austin-Bergstrom Airport – AUS 78 28
Dallas Love Field Airport – DAL 102 38
Dallas Fort Worth International Airport – DFW 218 93
El Paso Int. Airport – ELP 17th 10
Houston Hobby Airport – HOU 68 26th
George Bush Intercontinental – IAH 138 65
San Antonio Int. Airport – SAT 60 25th