TSA: Guns in airports on the rise

TSA: Guns in airports on the rise

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - The Transportation Security Administration, or TSA, is seeing a spike in prohibited items at airports across the country, including the Columbus Metro airport.

Between 2014 and 2015, TSA officials have seen a 20 percent increase in people trying to bring guns, often loaded, through security checkpoints.

Despite the warnings and rules posted in the Columbus Metro Airport, TSA supervisor Paul Tate and his team have seen an increase in all sorts of banned items.

"Anything small, like a miniature baseball bat used for souvenirs that can be used as a weapon, they can not go on the plane at all," said Tate.

While some may argue the threat of certain items like water bottles, most can see why officials don't want blunt weapons like knives and guns sneaking through security onto a plane.

In the last two years, TSA at the Columbus Airport have stopped someone each year trying to bring a firearm on a plane, but that pales in comparison to the more than 2,600 cases of people trying to bring their gun through security across the US in 2015. That's a 20 percent increase from the year before.

"We have more travelers than ever flying and we have more people than ever owning and carrying firearms, so a simple equation is more gun owners plus more travelers equals more guns at airports," said TSA representative Mark Howell.

However, it's more complicated than simply leaving the airport to take your gun back home. Trying to bring the illegal item on board could land you with a $7,500 civil fine and possibly criminal charges.

"Whenever we have an illegal item or a firearm come to the check point, what we're going to do is we have an alarm inside the checkpoint, we're going to hit that alarm, and local law enforcement is going to respond," said Howell.

If you want your gun to meet you at your final destination, the only way you can send it is through checked luggage.

"If you want to travel with a firearm you can do so, you just have to have it in a checked bag, it has to be in a hard-sided case with padding, unloaded, or the ammunition needs to be stored separately from the fire-arm, the box needs to be locked, and it has to be declared to the airline that you're flying on," said Howell.

TSA officials recently found that passengers can go through the Columbus Airport security check point in about three and a half minutes without any prohibited items. That number spikes to 15 minutes if you're carrying items you can't bring on board. 

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