TSA seizes record number of guns in 2021, OIA ranks in top 10

ORLANDO, Fla. — New data shows in 2021, TSA agents seized more guns at airport checkpoints than ever before, with Orlando International Airport landing in the top 10 airports with the most guns confiscated.

OIA ranks in at No. 8, just behind Fort Lauderdale International at No. 7. 2021 marks the sixth year Orlando made the top 10 list.

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Officials said nearly 5,700 guns were found in carry-on luggage at checkpoints nationwide in 2021, breaking the record of 4,400 in 2019.

“It was a little bit surprising being that with COVID, there were fewer passengers flying last year yet we set records across the country,” TSA spokesperson Sari Koshetz said.

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OIA followed the nationwide trend with 124 guns found at the checkpoint, which is the highest ever reported at the airport.

“Generally speaking … a good 86% of them across the country were loaded, many of those had ammunition in the chamber,” Koshetz said.

That, she said, puts that passenger, the ones around them and the workers in incredible danger.

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“You see how many people fling their bags onto the X-ray belt? And a weapon that’s loaded with chambered ammunition could have an accidental discharge,” Koshetz said.

Jeff Price, a professor of aviation at the Metropolitan State University of Denver, said a difference in passenger demographics could be contributing to the increase. He said the majority of people are leisure travelers, not the usual business travelers.

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“They’re not as used to going to the airport, I can’t take this with me, or in some cases, they forgot they have it, which is a little frightening,” Price said.

Koshetz said if that happens, you might be going to jail instead of to your destination.

Price said to curb the trend, officials need to educate the traveling public.

You can travel with an unloaded firearm, but it has to be in a locked hard-sided container as checked baggage only. You also have to declare the firearm and/or ammunition to the airline when checking your bag at the ticket counter.

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Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.