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TSA officers find loaded handguns in carry-ons at El Paso Airport

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TSA officers find loaded handguns in carry-ons at El Paso Airport
Handguns found at El Paso Airport - photo courtesy of TSA

Over a one-month period, Transportation Security Administration officers found 6 handguns in travelers’ carry-on bags at security checkpoints in El Paso.

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  1. Weapons were detected by airport X-ray machines.
  2. Packing an unloaded firearm with accessible ammunition to a security checkpoint carries the same civil penalty and fine as bringing a loaded firearm to the checkpoint.
  3. In all cases, police were notified and potential passengers were charged.

The loaded handguns were found at El Paso Airport during 6 different incidents from the period February 19 to March 26, 2021. All of the guns were loaded except for one.

The checkpoint X-ray machine is what detected the weapons, and in all cases, El Paso police were alerted. The would-be travelers were cited with weapons charges. Nothing points to the individual incidents as being linked in any way.

Nationwide, TSA officers have discovered 1,006 firearms to date and 86 percent of those have been loaded. In 2020, a total of 3,257 firearms were found in carry-on luggage at airports across the country.

Firearms can be transported on a commercial aircraft only if they are unloaded, packed in a locked, hard-sided case and placed in checked baggage. Then they need to take the case to the airline ticket counter to declare the firearm, ammunition, and any firearm parts.

Ammunition and firearm parts, including firearm frames, receivers, clips, and magazines are also prohibited in carry-on baggage and must be checked. Replica firearms also are prohibited in carry-on baggage and must be transported in checked luggage.

According to the TSA website, bringing an unloaded firearm with accessible ammunition to the security checkpoint carries the same civil penalty/fine as bringing a loaded firearm to the checkpoint.

Prior to traveling, passengers are encouraged to check gun laws and regulations at their destination to ensure they are in compliance with local and state laws. TSA also recommends travelers check with their airline prior to their flight to ensure they comply with any airline-specific requirements.

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