HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Not one, but two loaded guns were confiscated at Harrisburg International Airport Wednesday. Both armed passengers are from Cumberland County. They were not traveling together.
The TSA says it’s part of a new trend. They say they’re finding loaded guns at security checkpoints at a higher rate during this pandemic than they did this time last year, and they say it’s alarming.
“Last month, July, what we were seeing was a pretty disturbing trend, in that more guns were coming to checkpoints in spite of the fact that about 75% fewer passengers are traveling,” said Lisa Farbstein, TSA spokesperson.
That’s the trend nationwide. According to the TSA, officers seized over 300 guns in July, three times more than last year. So why do they believe this is happening more?
“We have seen a massive number of news accounts indicating that there are more firearms out there, that the number of firearms sales has just skyrocketed since say March,” said Farbstein.
The NRA says the sales spike is because people are concerned police may respond slower because of the pandemic and protest response.
The two incidents at Harrisburg International Airport Wednesday are the second and third guns caught at the airport so far this month. They were confiscated by police, and each person was cited on state weapons charges.
“The group of passengers that we see coming back now are the leisure travelers, not necessarily the business travelers or the frequent fliers, and so what we suspect is that people who aren’t flying as much just have accidentally left something in the bag,” said Marshall Stevens, Deputy Executive Director at HIA.
In all four incidents so far this year at HIA, the TSA says it doesn’t believe the public was in danger. You can travel with a firearm in checked baggage, only if it’s properly packaged and declared to the airline.
A typical first offense for carrying a loaded handgun into a checkpoint is $4,100 but it can go as high as $13,669, depending on the circumstances.