Will it be worth $15,000 to get caught carrying your gun in your carry-on at the airport? That is the fine the Transportation Security Administration is raising for people caught with a gun at security checkpoints this year. The TSA said Friday it’s raising the maximum fine to $14,950. Previously it was $13,910.
TSA officers found 6,301 firearms in carry-on bags this year, surpassing the record of 5,972 detected in 2021. The numbers have increased steadily over the last decade, and 80 percent of the guns found this year were loaded.
Firearm possession laws vary by location, but guns are never allowed in carry-on bags at any airport security checkpoint, even if a passenger has a concealed-weapon permit. Instead, passengers transporting firearms must do so in a locked case in checked baggage. They also must declare them to the airline, the TSA said.
At a congressional hearing earlier this year, some lawmakers and airport administrators called for higher fines, gun safety classes for violators, and other measures. However, they said officials rarely imposed the maximum penalties, and that is not working as a deterrent. But other lawmakers said most passengers who get caught forget they are carrying a gun, and higher fines won’t stop that problem.
When the TSA finds a gun, they check for stolen or involved in a previous crime. Therefore, the agency may also confiscate the weapon.
The TSA determines the amount of the fine based on the circumstances of each case, and the TSA will revoke PreCheck eligibility for at least five years for anyone caught with a gun at a security checkpoint. Authorities may also arrest passengers for a firearms violation depending on the state or local laws in the airport’s location.