Lisa McCormick, a progressive anti-violence advocate, said Congress should be concerned about the increasing frequency with which travelers are carrying handguns at airports.
“While it is good that weapons are being found at security checkpoints, I have no confidence that all of the firearms airline passengers are toting have been identified,” said McCormick. “Just recently, there have been multiple disturbing reports about
Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers stopped a 57-year-old passenger from carrying a .380 caliber firearm loaded with six rounds onto an airplane at Bangor International Airport on March 20, 2023, TSA officers at Norfolk International Airport prevented a woman from bringing her loaded 9mm pistol onto her flight on Friday, March 17, and in 2023, 10 guns have already been detected at the checkpoints in Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, which last year set a new record for the most weapons in a single year when TSA officers caught 35 handguns,” said McCormick.
“Last year, 6,542 firearms were caught by TSA at 262 out of 430 airport security checkpoints nationwide,” said McCormick. “Eighty-eight percent of those guns were loaded.”
“The most common excuse we hear is that someone forgot that they had their gun with them,” said Christopher Murgia, TSA’s Federal Security Director for Maryland. “That’s no excuse. If you own a firearm, you need to know where it is at all times. It’s part of being a responsible gun owner.”
“Friday marked the seventh gun that our officers in Norfolk have prevented from being carried onto a flight so far this young year,” said Robin ‘Chuck’ Burke, TSA’s Federal Security Director for Norfolk International Airport.
TSA may issue travelers who have guns and gun parts with them at an airport checkpoint, a civil penalty with fines of $3,000 to $15,000, but the man with the loaded handgun on Monday in Maine, was merely escorted back to his vehicle by Bangor police to secure his firearm.
“The crime of carrying loaded firearms at security checkpoints in airports should not be lightly excused and failing to punish those who break the law does not indicate that TSA officials are truly committed to ensuring a safe travel experience for everyone,” said McCormick. “Passengers are only permitted to travel with unloaded firearms packed in a hard-sided locked case, which must be taken to the airline check-in counter to be declared. TSA describes how to properly travel with a firearm on its website.”
Last year, 6,542 firearms were caught by TSA at 262 out of 430 airport security checkpoints nationwide. Eighty-eight percent of those guns were loaded.
“The MDTA Police are committed to ensuring a safe travel experience for everyone traveling through BWI Airport,” MDTA Police Captain Kevin Ayd said. “A big piece of that mission is partnering with TSA to ensure firearms are transported safely and legally.”
“Cowards in Congress have failed to exercise their authority to regulate firearms, which is specifically enumerated in Article I, Section 8, Clause 16 of the Constitution of the United States,” said McCormick, a longtime advocate for common sense laws that will save lives. “Under World War I the militia had been an almost entirely state institution, but it was brought under the control of the federal government reorganized as the National Guard.”
“Court rulings have hindered the ability of states to regulate firearms, but the Supreme Court approved a system of dual enlistment, under which those enlisted in state militia units are relieved of their status when called to active duty in the federal service and it is obvious that Congress has the constitutional authority to enact gun control laws,” said McCormick.
TSA officers at Pittsburgh International Airport prevented two Pennsylvania residents from bringing loaded 9mm handguns through the security checkpoint on Friday, March 17, and Saturday, March 18.
A Montgomery County, Pa., man was arrested at John F. Kennedy International Airport on March 9, by Port Authority Police who confiscated the loaded .38 caliber revolver found in his backpack, which was the second firearm that TSA has detected at the airport so far this year. The same day, officers at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport prevented an Alexandria, Va., man from bringing his loaded 9mm caliber handgun onto a flight.
“Guns are not permitted through any airport security checkpoint but there is ample evidence that the laws are being flouted by thousands of Americans,” said McCormick. “In recent weeks people were stopped doing that in Salt Lake City, Utah; Des Moines, Iowa; North Central West Virginia; Richmond, Viginia; Las Vegas, Nevada; Burlington, Vermont; Honolulu; Hawaii; Virginia Beach, Viginia; Huntington, West Virginia; New Orleans, Louisiana; Greenville, Wisconsin; Westchester County, New York.”