A dangerous and potentially deadly new trend in Florida could lead to disastrous outcomes for passengers at the state’s airports, including those who fly into and out of Orlando International Airport (MCO) as part of their Walt Disney World vacation plans.
According to FOX35 Orlando, nearly 600 firearms have been intercepted by agents with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) since January 1, 2022, and TSA is warning passengers in flying into Florida airports and out of Florida airports that the growing trend can end in “dire consequences.”
On Thursday, TSA spokesperson Sari Koshetz said that almost every single gun that was confiscated was fully loaded, and had its ammunition chambered as well. Simply put, each one could have caused irreparable damage in the wrong hands or in the event of an accident involving an unintended discharge.
“Each gun presents a danger,” Koshetz said. “Any incident could have tragic results. This ominous trend continues across the country. Every passenger should know exactly where their gun is before they enter the airport and make sure that it is not in a backpack, purse, suitcase, or any carry-on that [they] plan to bring into the security checkpoint.”
TSA agents have intercepted firearms in more than 13 airports in the state of Florida in 2022 alone. Orlando International Airport, the destination for the majority of vacationers headed to the Walt Disney World Resort who choose flying as their means of getting to the parks, has had the most interceptions of any Florida airport, with a total of 107 intercepted guns. Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport has had 104 guns confiscated, while Tampa International Airport has had 83. TSA agents have intercepted 67 firearms at Miami International Airport this year, and at Jacksonville International Airport, that number is 47. Again, that’s just in 2022.
And these aren’t the only airports facing this very dangerous trend. It’s happening at airports all across the Sunshine State, such as Daytona Beach International, Southwest Florida International, Palm Beach International, Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport, Pensacola International, Tallahassee International, Gainesville Regional Airport, and Punta Gorda Airport.
Passengers–especially those who don’t fly very often–have wondered if guns are even allowed in airports or in their luggage at all, and it’s a fair question, especially as gun violence has been on the rise in the United States in recent years.
According to the Transportation Security Administration, passengers are prohibited from having guns inside their carry-on luggage. Firearms must be packed inside checked baggage, and if passengers are checking firearms, they are required to declare them to airline carrier representatives during check-in for their flights. Guns that are checked must be completely unloaded and housed inside a locked, hard-sided case.
Passengers who bring firearms through at TSA checkpoint in the airport can be subject to a heavy civil penalty resulting in fines of up to $13,910 whether they are arrested or not. Additionally, frequent flyers who participate in the TSA PreCheck Program and bring a firearm to the checkpoint can also have their privileges revoked either temporarily or permanently.