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TSA confiscating more guns at Kentucky airports

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Posted at 7:06 PM, Jan 20, 2022

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — More of us have started flying again since the beginning of the pandemic.

The numbers not only show that air travel is picking up but how many people are packing loaded or even unloaded guns in their carry-on bag.

"We're at about four times the amount of guns that we found at checkpoints ten years ago," said Mark Howell with TSA.

Howell says about 86 percent of the guns detected at the checkpoint last year were loaded.

"Despite the changes in passenger volume, the thing that has consistently risen, year over year, is the rate of firearms detected per passenger," Howell said.

In 2021 at the commercial airports in Kentucky, TSA screened more than 5.5 million departing travelers. Of those bags that went through the x-ray, agents report 119 cases where they found a gun in a carry-on bag. At Blue Grass airport alone, there were 22 found in 2021.

"We'll actually stop what we are doing on a TSA checkpoint and wait for law enforcement to come and remove the firearm and the passenger from the checkpoint area to make sure everyone in the checkpoint area is safe," Howell said. "Whenever we have a firearm come through the checkpoint, it's going to slow things down because we're losing some of our screening capabilities."

TSA says in Kentucky, the rate of guns detected per passenger is more than double that of the national rate. TSA says travelers can face penalties as much as almost $14,000 per violation for bringing a gun to a TSA checkpoint.