(WHTM) — The TSA has a message for travelers: Stop bringing guns through security in carry-on luggage. It has become a growing problem at Harrisburg International Airport, with a record number found this year.
That record: Eight guns found at security checkpoints, all but one of them loaded. Officials said they are not trying to stop people from flying with guns; they just want them to do it the right way.
“It’s extremely disturbing to see what’s going on,” TSA spokesperson Lisa Farbstein said. “We would much prefer that people properly pack their firearms”
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Farbstein said the most common excuse officials hear is, “I forgot I had my gun on me.” She said that is unacceptable.
“Responsible gun owners know where their guns are at all times,” she said.
Farbstein said the second most common excuse is also not a good one.
“My husband packed my bag or my wife packed my bag and neither of those excuses fly either,” she said.
Farbstein said it is easy to pack and travel with a gun the right way. First, make sure it is unloaded and the ammunition is in the original box. Put both in a hard-sided case. Once the gun and ammunition are packed in the case, lock it and declare it at the airline check-in counter.
“Your airline’s going to give you some paperwork. Look at that, there’s your paperwork folks, it’s the size of an index card,” Farbstein explained.
Those simple steps help avoid major delays at security. When TSA officers find a gun, Farbsteni said, “The checkpoint comes to a standstill. The conveyor belt is turned off.”
Having a gun in carry-on luggage can also carry a hefty fine and could even lead to an arrest. Fines could be up to $14,000.
“That’s thousands of dollars worth of money that you’re spending because you made a mistake,” Farbstein said.
Farbstein said packing a gun correctly is also the best way to prevent disaster.
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“You’ve seen the way people handle luggage where the luggage gets tossed on a conveyor belt, it gets tossed in a plane and so on, and you don’t want to have any kind of accident happening. That would be awful, that could be tragic,” she said.
This is not just an issue at HIA. In 2021, TSA found nearly 6,000 guns nationwide, and officials said they are on track to exceed that in 2022. It is not a record they want to set.