Checkpoint security officers were able to stop a man who brought his handgun along to Tampa International Airport’s security checkpoint, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said in a news release Wednesday.
The man was headed to Seattle when he arrived at TPA. At the TSA checkpoint, officers found a Bersa Thunder semi-automatic pistol, authorities say. It was loaded with six rounds and one bullet was chambered.
Officers were able to keep the gun off of the airplane, but say this occurrence is an ongoing trend in Florida and across the country. Officials said a woman was stopped at St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport’s security checkpoint with a gun in her backpack and another woman was stopped at the Jacksonville International Airport checkpoint with a gun in her purse.
TSA officers were able to stop each of the passengers, but worry they are not aware of their gun’s location prior to arriving at the airport.
“Whether or not they had nefarious intent, accidents happen and tragedies could result,” TSA spokesperson Sari Koshetz said. “ Know exactly where your gun is before you enter the airport and make sure that it is not in your backpack, purse, computer bag or suitcase that you plan to bring into the security checkpoint.”
In recent days, other flight passengers have been found with a handgun in their possession at Miami International Airport TSA checkpoint and Orlando International Airport. One passenger who arrived at Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport carrying a Beretta, which was intercepted by TSA. He wasn’t arrested but will lose his TSA PreCheck privileges and faces a fine that could exceed $13,000.
To date, 195 guns have been found in Florida airports. Among them: 26 at TPA and 40 at Orlando International. Passengers found with a gun on them at the airport face a civil penalty from the TSA that can reach as much as $13,910.
Here are a few tips from TSA to get through the security checkpoint as smoothly as possible: No guns in carry-ons, wear a face mask, leave all prohibited items at home, and prepare for the security checkpoint.