Traveling for the holidays? Leave your weapons behind

Bringing a gun to a TSA checkpoint can lead to your arrest or a hefty fine

As holiday travels start to ramp up, airport officials want to make you're not slowing down the lines through TSA with any banned items.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As holiday travel ramps up, authorities at Jacksonville International Airport want to make sure travelers aren’t slowing each other down by bringing contraband with them.

It’s estimated that roughly 10,000 people walk through the Transportation Security Administration checkpoint at JAX every day. Even though everyone knows the rules by now, somehow banned items keep finding their way into people’s luggage and inevitably end up holding up the lines.

“We have to dedicate an officer to open that bag, remove the item, give the passenger a chance to go back to the car or go back to their airline and check their bag,” TSA spokesperson Sari Koshetz said. “If you escalate that passenger after passenger, you’re never going to get to the checkpoint.”

On Monday, the agency showed off the variety of items intercepted by TSA agents at JAX over the past several weeks. Their findings included blades, grenades and even shuriken, better known as ninja stars.

“I just didn’t understand why people would even attempt to bring that kind of stuff on,” said Laurie Cass, who was dropping her family off at the airport. “I am glad TSA is here doing what they do.”

It should go without saying that firearms are another no-no. But that didn’t keep travelers from bringing 41 guns into the airport this year alone. That figure is less than 10 percent of the 461 guns confiscated at airports throughout the state of Florida.

For perspective, the TSA screened 65 million passengers nationwide from Oct. 7 through Nov. 3. During that period, they found 374 firearms in carry-on bags, 333 of which were loaded and 118 of which had a round chambered. The agency intercepted 4,239 firearms across the country in 2018.

Bringing a firearm to a security checkpoint can result in an arrest or a fine exceeding $13,000.

“If you are going to travel with your gun, it needs to be in your checked bag,” Koshetz explained. “It needs to be in a locked container, unloaded and declared to the airline at check-in.”

TSA is asking everyone to double-check their bags before heading to the airport over the holidays. With the number of travelers passing through Jacksonville’s security checkpoint expected to reach more than 13,000 on the day before Thanksgiving, you don’t want to be the one holding everyone else up.

About the Author:

Florida-born multi-media journalist pays special attention to issues in St. Johns County.