Record number of firearms found at Austin airport for 2022

Two travelers at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) with guns in their carry-on luggage were stopped early Friday morning. 

Images of the firearms showed both had ammunition. They're not the first to be found this month, according to TSA spokesperson Patricia Mancha.

"That's gun number five and number six for 2023. We're not even through January, and we already have six guns. You know, that's just crazy," said Mancha.

TSA screeners, who work in the top three airports in Central Texas, are coming off a record-breaking year. 

In 2022, 154 firearms were found in carry-on luggage. Austin, the largest of the three airports, had the most, exceeding the previous record in 2021 by 40 firearms. The other Central Texas Region airports, Waco and Killeen, both had two cases in 2022.

"Nationally, we got over 6,000 guns in travelers carry-on luggage. Here at Austin-Bergstrom. It's number eight in the nation. And that's the first time that Austin has been in the top 10 airports with the most guns," said Mancha.

TSA provided a display of items confiscated at AUS checkpoints. They included knives, hooks, and weapons concealed in things like a lipstick container and an umbrella, bowling and juggling pens, fake grenades as well as other novelty items.

FOX 7 asked TSA Agent Dale Clay what was the most unique thing he's come across.

"The craziest thing I've seen was two mortar rounds and duffel bag, two mortar rounds," said Clay.

The travelers, according to Clay, said they were taking the mortars home as souvenirs. The typical excuse for violating the prohibited item in a carry-on bag rule is, "I forgot." 

Some individuals have blamed their spouse. FOX 7 was told one man even said it was the fault of his three-year-old child for putting a gun in his bag. 

Gabby Young and her friends were drawn to the TSA display after picking up their luggage.

"I'm honestly shocked that folks would actually try to bring some of this stuff onto planes. Our hope and our trust are on the men and women of TSA that do a good job. They're trying to keep us safe, and we should be patient with them when they're trying to do their job," said Young.

Traveling with a firearm is possible.

"First, your gun must be unloaded. It must be packed in a hard sided container with a lock, and it must be declared with the airline. And very importantly in your checked luggage, at no point is a gun, bullet or any type of gun component allowed in your carry-on luggage. Anyone that wants to travel with a gun can do so in their checked luggage," said Mancha.

Travelers who violate the law can face criminal charges ranging from a misdemeanor to a felony. Plus a $15,000 fine, depending on the circumstances.