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North Carolina's airports saw a record number of gun confiscations in 2021, TSA says

Steve Harrison

The Transportation Security Administration found a record-breaking number of guns in carry-on bags at North Carolina airports in 2021.

According to a TSA news release, 254 guns were found in carry-on luggage, up from the previous high of 194 guns in 2019. The top three airports with the highest number of confiscated guns are Charlotte Douglas with 106 guns, Raleigh - Durham with 100 and Asheville with 15 .

A record 5,972 guns were found in carry-on bags at airports across the country, with the most, 507, found at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. TSA spokesperson Mark Howell said 80-90% of found guns were loaded.

Most of the guns were found in states like North Carolina with concealed and open carry laws, Howell said. He said the growing number of people getting permits in those states is likely driving up numbers at airport security.

“They get used to grabbing their wallet, their keys and their firearm before heading out to do whatever they are doing for the day,” Howell said. “But you really have to flip that mindset while you’re traveling.”

Howell said passengers can travel with firearms, but they have to follow TSA guidelines, which include making sure guns are not loaded, putting them in checked luggage and letting the airline know about the guns at the ticket counter.

Passengers caught with an unloaded gun face a $2,000 - $3,000 penalty. That penalty increases to $4,000 - $5,000 for a loaded gun, with the maximum penalty of $13,900 if the passenger had previously been caught with a gun in their carry-on bag.

Howell said the TSA is working with airports and airlines to raise awareness about what not to pack in carry-on luggage.

“Those things like knives, and it’s weird to say it, but explosives. We just got done with New Year’s , and we saw fireworks coming to check points across the U.S.,” Howell said.

Copyright 2022 WFAE. To see more, visit WFAE.

Catherine Welch is news director at Rhode Island Public Radio. Before her move to Rhode Island in 2010, Catherine was news director at WHQR in Wilmington, NC. She was also news director at KBIA in Columbia, MO where she was a faculty member at the University Of Missouri School Of Journalism. Catherine has won several regional Edward R. Murrow awards and awards from the Public Radio News Directors Inc., New England AP, North Carolina Press Association, Missouri Press Association, and Missouri Broadcasters Association.
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