Guns at Austin airport: TSA prevents 100th gun from getting on plane this year

Officials with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) say they're concerned about the frequency they're seeing travelers carry handguns to security checkpoints in Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.

TSA says it prevented the 100th gun from making it on airplanes and adds that most of the guns are found to be loaded. It looks like 2022 will have the most firearms catches in the last few years. Here's a look at the numbers from recent years:

  • 2021 - 110
  • 2020 - 49
  • 2019 - 77
  • 2018 - 93

"Once again our officers are on top of preventing firearms from entering the secure area of the airport," said Gilbert Almaraz, TSA’s Federal Security Director at AUS. "Carelessly traveling with a loaded firearm is a public safety concern, considering it could accidentally be discharged during a search."

"The most common excuse we hear is that someone forgot that they had their gun with them," Almarez adds. "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."

Travelers are responsible for the contents of bags and TSA recommends that travelers go through their carry-on and checked bags before they head to the airport to ensure that they have no illegal or prohibited items inside. 

Transporting firearms and ammunition

Passengers are permitted to travel with firearms in checked baggage if they are properly packaged and declared at their airline ticket counter. 

Firearms must be unloaded, placed in a hard-sided locked case, and packed separately from ammunition. Then the locked case must be taken to the airline check-in counter to be declared. 

TSA has details on how to properly travel with a firearm posted on its website.

Civil enforcement

TSA reserves the right to issue a civil penalty to travelers who bring weapons with them to a checkpoint. 

Civil penalties for bringing a handgun into a checkpoint can stretch into thousands of dollars, depending on mitigating or aggravating circumstances. This applies to travelers with or without concealed gun carry permits because even though an individual may have a concealed carry permit, it does not allow for a firearm to be carried onto an airplane. 

The complete list of civil penalties is posted online

If a traveler with a gun is a member of TSA PreCheck, that individual will lose their TSA PreCheck privileges.