Let's make a New Year's resolution to pack smarter.
And, more importantly, safer.
This past week, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced that screeners have already stopped a record 6,301 firearms found inside of travelers' carry-on bags this year and are on track to seize some 6,600 guns nationwide by the end of 2022.
Even more alarming, more than 88 percent of the guns uncovered this year were loaded.
The number of firearms being stopped by TSA was always trending up from 2010 (1,123) to 2019 (4,432) but the COVID-19 pandemic brought that trend to a halt when the number of seizures dipped to 3,257 in 2020. However, like travel demand, the figure quickly ballooned in 2021, reaching 5,972 and has now peaked at more than 6,300 in 2022.
With many travelers clearly not getting the message, the agency has increased the maximum civil penalty for a firearms violation to $14,950 in hopes of deterring future transgressions. But it's unclear how many of these unfortunate discoveries involve individuals who are trying to pull a fast one on TSA or others who simply aren't aware of what is and isn't allowed.
When it comes to the latter, a stiffer penalty is probably meaningless.
Some travelers might feel they are in the right since they're carrying a concealed weapon permit. However, they'll want to know that that won't save them once they step into a TSA screening line. Firearms are never allowed in carry-on luggage and must be packed safely in checked baggage based on your airline's policies and declared ahead of time.
Packing safer, and smarter when it comes to avoiding a hefty fine or potential hiccups at the checkpoint, starts with downloading the free MyTSA app, which allows users to quickly search which items they can and can't bring with them through the checkpoint.
TSA PreCheck-just $78 for five-years-is another good call to not only speed up the screening process but to make packing easier as you won't need to worry about removing shoes, belts, 3-1-1 liquids, laptops or light jackets.
The more travelers utilizing these tools could mean fewer loaded guns and other dangerous and time-consuming items coming into airport security checkpoints. It's been awesome to watch travel bounce back in 2022 but the return of this disturbing trend has been anything but encouraging.
Let's be better in 2023.
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