COLORADO SPRINGS, CO — The Colorado Springs Airport and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) want passengers who are preparing for Spring Break vacations not to bring guns in their carry-on luggage.
TSA officers have discovered 975 firearms in passengers' carry-on luggage at airport security checkpoints nationwide already this year, marking a 43% rise over this same time period in 2021.
The numbers have risen more sharply at the Colorado Springs Airport.
Lorie Dankers, TSA Public Affairs Officer at the Colorado Springs Airport, said a record 15 passengers attempted to bring guns in their carry-on luggage in 2021.
"This year so far, 9 firearms have been found in carry-on luggage at the checkpoint here at Colorado Springs," Dankers said. "That's a three-fold increase over what we saw at this exact same time last year."
Travelers can still fly with firearms, however, Dankers explained that they must be properly secured in their checked luggage.
Dankers demonstrated how to properly store a handgun that resembled a semi-automatic pistol in a secured flight case.
"I highly recommend getting this type of case, they're relatively inexpensive, you're talking $10-15 item at a sporting goods store," Dankers said. "So, it's something that people who have a firearm should invest in."
The gun and the magazine were both unloaded as she placed them in the case along with a box of ammunition. The case was then secured by two combination locks.
Dankers said firearms owners should not use TSA-compatible locks because they can be accessed by a set of master keys.
"If they need to open up your firearm case for any reason, you as the traveler will be contacted to do that," she said.
The secured firearms case should then be packed in a traveler's luggage at home. Once you reach the airport, you must declare the gun at check-in.
Anytime a TSA officer spots the image of a handgun on an x-ray screen, all screen activity stops for everyone. The TSA will then notify the Colorado Springs Police Department who then removes the weapon and the passenger from the checkpoint.
Travelers who bring a weapon to a TSA checkpoint can face criminal charges by the intervening law enforcement agency.
Dankers also notes that these violations can cost travelers up to $10,000 in civil penalties.
During the past three weeks, TSA officers have screened an average of 1.9 million travelers a day, a 50% increase over 2021 but still slightly below the pre-pandemic daily average of 2.1 million passengers.
Dankers encourages travelers to check the "Can I Bring" section of the TSA website. A similar feature is offered through the MyTSA mobile app.
"Many of the people who staff that account are former TSA officers," Dankers said. "So, they're very familiar with the procedures, they're very familiar with different circumstances and you're going to get some solid gold information from there because they're going be able to tell you so you can travel."
Like always, she reminds travelers to arrive early for their flights. The busiest times of day at the Colorado Springs Airport checkpoint are from 5:00 to 7:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., and from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m.
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