TSA

Crazy scary!? TSA found 3000+ guns at airport checkpoints so far this year

Here’s a packing tip: check your pockets, your purse, your briefcase, duffel, or carry-on bag to make sure you aren’t taking your gun – your loaded gun (!) – with you to the airport.

As travel returns to ‘normal,’ the Transporation Security Administration reports an uptick in the number of guns, and – we repeat – loaded guns – being discovered at airport checkpoints.

Gun owners tell us that responsible gun owners always know where their gun is located. TSA says most people found with a gun in their carry-on say “they forgot” they had that gun on them.

In some cities and states, ‘forgetting’ you have a gun in your carry-on can result in a fine of more than $10,000 – or jail.

Or, depending on local laws, TSA may just tell you to (properly) put the gun in checked luggage. Or leave it behind.

But we’re headed for trouble. Last week TSA reported that in the first 6 months of 2022, TSA officers have already found more than 3,000 guns at checkpoints around the country.

That’s an average of 17 guns per day. And at this pace, TSA will surpass the previous record of 5,972 guns found at airport checkpoints in one year. That record was set in 2021, a year when far fewer people were traveling.

Any ideas for how to stop this?

TSA’s first airport checkpoint turns 20

Then: the first TSA Checkpoint was a BWI. Photo courtesy TSA

It feels as if the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has always been in charge of security at airports.

But TSA was created in November 2001, in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

And, beginning on April 30, 2002, Baltimore/Washington Thurgood Marshall International Airport (BWI) became the very first airport in the nation to be ‘federalized.’ It became the first airport to have security screening taken over by the newly formed agency.

BWI and TSA officials marked that anniversary on Friday at the airport and shared background on what was happening at the time.

“The ‘TSA Start-Up Team’ at BWI built a ‘War Room’ on the lower level of C Concourse and began testing new screening methods, checkpoint designs, standard operating procedures, and more,” TSA said in a statement. “The team’s main tasks were to establish the new agency and its security mission and write policies and procedures that adhered to the requirements of the law that created TSA. They were to build a fully federalized workforce of security screening officers to replace private contract screeners.”

Many of the early Transportation Security Officers trained at BWI before they were deployed across the country.

Today there are 430 federalized airports and 64,000 TSA employees nationwide.

TSA Checkpoint at BWI now. Photos courtesy TSA

Mask mandate off. For now.

On Monday a federal judge in Florida struck down the Biden administration’s mandate requiring masks to be worn in airports, on airplanes, trains, buses, and on other forms of public transportation.

The ruling is being reviewed. But late Monday, the Transportation Security Administration issued a statement informing the public that:

Due to today’s court ruling, effective immediately, TSA will no longer enforce its Security Directives and Emergency Amendment requiring mask use on public transportation and transportation hubs. TSA will also rescind the new Security Directives that were scheduled to take effect tomorrow. CDC continues to recommend that people wear masks in indoor public transportation settings at this time.

TSA’s announcement was followed by messages from airports and airlines saying they too would no longer enforce the mask mandate.

Here are a couple of airport tweets on the subject. Note the tweet from Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) where masks are still required.

Airlines were pretty quick to declare that they would no longer be requiring passengers to wear masks on board either.

American Airlines, Alaska Airines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue, Southwest Airlines, Sun Country, United Airlines and most every other airline issued a statement and/or sent out a social media post.

You may – and maybe should – still wear a mask when you travel

While masks may no longer be required when traveling, it may still be a good idea to wear a mask in busy airports and on airplanes and on public transporation to and from the airport.

Coronavirus infections are on the rise in many communities and you, or someone around you, may be immunocompromised and easily susceptible to the current COVID variant, the flu, or whatever else may be going around.

There are also still a lot of unvaccinated people out there. So wearing a mask is an easy way to protect yourself and those around you.

If you decide to no longer wear a mask when traveling, please be respectful of those who continue to wear them.

“Your Flight Has Been Canceled”

Winter weather and pandemic-related staffing issues are creating a nightmare for travelers.

Thousands of flights have been canceled or delayed – or delayed and then canceled – over the holiday weekend and now into this week.

On Tuesday, more than 1,000 flights across the country were canceled, while thousands more experienced delays. When we checked late Tuesday evening, FlightAware was already showing more than 650 flight cancelations for Wednesday and it’s a good bet that more will be canceled overnight.

We hope you are not caught up in the mess.

“Artfully Concealed” Knives

TSA has some alarming images and statistics about ‘artfully concealed’ and not-so-artfully concealed weapons that people try to bring through airport checkpoints.

Incredibly alarming are the knives discovered on Monday sewn inside a kid’s stuffed animal at Philadelphia International Airport (PHL)

“The stuffed animal, which appeared to be a black bear in a space-age technology suit and cape, triggered an alarm as it entered the checkpoint X-ray machine,” TSA said in a statement. “The X-ray image indicated something concealed inside the bear and upon closer inspection, TSA officers noticed that the back of the bear showed signs it had been re-stitched.”

When the stitching was removed, two knives were found inside the bear’s stuffing.

The mother of the boy carrying the toy told officials that the bear is a comfort toy for her son. But TSA says the mom will likely face a Federal civil penalty for this violation.

Meanwhile, right before the Christmas holiday, TSA shared that so far this year its officers have found more than 5,700 firearms at security checkpoints. That is a 20-year record.