(FOX 9) - A Transportation Security Administration officer at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) stopped two loaded handguns on the same day on Tuesday, Feb 7 — an incident that, while rare, reflects a rise in officers seizing illegally transported guns at airports across the country.
The officer detected the first gun with the help of a checkpoint X-ray machine at 4:45 a.m.— it was in a carry-on bag, according to a press release from TSA. Later, while in the same lane, the officer spotted another firearm in a passenger's bag. TSA said that in both cases, Airport police confiscated the firearms.
The two gun seizures bring the total of guns stopped so far this year at MPS to 9, meaning that, while we are still at an early point in the year, MSP is on track to surpass last year’s total of 58.
"Bringing a firearm to the checkpoint is an expensive, dangerous mistake that far too many people are making," Minnesota TSA Federal Security Director Marty Robinson said. "Our TSA officers are doing a fantastic job preventing weapons from making their way onboard aircraft, but the responsibility falls to passengers to pack smart and keep prohibited items out of their baggage."
Figures provided by TSA show the number of firearms caught at MSP has been rising steadily since 2018. A year-by-year breakdown:
- 2018: 37
- 2019: 40
- 2020: 34
- 2021: 56
- 2022: 58
The trend is national. Last year TSA stopped a record number of guns at airport checkpoints — 6,542, surpassing the previous record of 5,972, which had only been set the year before
Passengers can travel with firearms in checked baggage if they follow TSA rules. The guns must be:
- Packed separately from ammunition
- In a locked hard back case
- Declared at the airline check-in counter.
Different laws may apply in different jurisdictions. MSP explains its firearms safety rules here.
In December, TSA announced that the penalty for bringing weapons to the airport increased and can reach as high as $14,950, depending on the circumstances.