TSA raises alarm about record numbers of guns being confiscated at airports

Guns are showing up at airports in record numbers again this year and law enforcement is putting an emphasis on reversing the trend. In a span of six hours in February, a single TSA officer at MSP confiscated two firearms sliding down the conveyor belt, headed for flights.

The rare double detection highlighted a growing problem at airports across the country, including this one, where about 31,000 passengers board flights every day.

"It’s been concerning to see my officers dispatched to a growing number of incidents involving guns discovered at our security checkpoints," said Matt Christenson, Metropolitan Airports Commission police chief.

Whether they were hidden in a chicken or in peanut butter or just loose in a bag, Transportation Security Administration officers intercepted 58 firearms at MSP last year and 6542 firearms nationwide, breaking a record set just the year before. 88% of them were loaded, and statistics this year show the trend is only getting worse.

"To date we are on track to beat that number as more than 3300 firearms have been stopped nationwide so far," said Marty Robinson, TSA federal security director for Minnesota.

Robinson says it’s a major safety issue and almost every time, the explanation is that travelers forgot they packed their gun in carry-on luggage. He says that’s a sign of an irresponsible gun owner.

"It amazes me that someone can walk up to the checkpoint with a loaded gun in their purse or backpack and not know it is there," Robinson said.

That’s not to say guns can’t travel on planes, just not in the main cabin.

You can legally declare a weapon at check-in if you pack it correctly.

"[In a] hard-sided case with an unloaded firearm, locked can be put into your checked bags," Robinson said.

MSP has added "Zero Tolerance" signs throughout the terminals to remind travelers to think about flying legally and safely. If you get caught with a gun, you’ll miss your flight and possibly go to jail. It’s considered a misdemeanor and a potential $15,000 fine as well.