Thirteen guns – most of them loaded – were confiscated by the Transportation Security Administration at Little Rock’s Clinton National Airport so far this year. Last year, they found 14 guns. At Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport (XNA), TSA has taken six guns this year to date, but 10 last year. According to TSA officials, guns “remain a problem.”
At the Fort Smith Regional Airport there were five guns discovered in 2014, with four loaded. At least one weapon has been discovered at Fort Smith in 2015. A .45 caliber pistol was caught on Oct. 20, with the weapon loaded and a round chambered.
One of the more recent guns caught at XNA was a .380 caliber pistol. The weapon, discovered on Oct. 23, was loaded but a round was not chambered. The most recent gun discovered in Little Rock was a 9mm pistol on Sept. 25. The weapon was loaded and a round was chambered.
However, the number of guns confiscated is a small percentage compared to the number of enplanements at each facility. Clinton National Airport enplanements for the first 10 months of the year total 832,306, down 4.94% compared to the same period in 2014. Enplanements at XNA for the first 10 months of the year totaled 549,215, up 1.28% compared to the same period in 2014. For the first 11 months of 2015, enplanements at Fort Smith total 80,389, down from 85,460 during the same period of 2014.
As the holiday travel season ramps up, airport officials are reminding travelers not to pack guns in their carry-on luggage. In fact, they have a whole list of things people shouldn’t bring. Guns in a security checkpoint will get a person arrested. They may face a year in jail and up to $11,000 in civil penalties. What doesn’t get you arrested, can leave a passenger poorer.
Nationwide, the TSA in 2014 discovered 2,212 guns in 224 different airports, with an average of six guns caught per day, according to the TSA blog. That was up from 1,813 in 2013 and almost double the 1,123 guns discovered in 2010. Of the guns discovered, 83% were loaded.
The airport with the most gun discoveries in 2014 was Dallas-Fort Worth with 120. The next was Atlanta with 109, followed by 78 in Phoenix.
“You can travel with your firearms in checked baggage, but they must first be declared to the airline,” noted a recent TSA blog posting. “Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality. Travelers should familiarize themselves with state and local firearm laws for each point of travel prior to departure.”
OTHER CHECKPOINT PROBLEMS
In Little Rock alone, TSA has collected from travelers 3,100 pounds of hazardous materials, such as household chemicals. Another 1,700 pounds of VAP (the administration acronym for “voluntarily abandoned property”), such as knives and brass knuckles was left behind at security checkpoints. Officers have stopped stun guns, grenades, brass knuckles and martial arts tools from boarding planes in carry-on luggage.
The “3-1-1 rule” is still in effect. Liquids, gels, aerosols, creams and pastes must be 3.4 ounces (100ml) or less per container; must be in 1-quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag; 1 bag is permitted per passenger; and the plastic bag must be taken out of your suitcase and placed into a screening bin. The bag limits the total liquid volume each traveler can bring and enables quick screening.
There are exceptions to this rule, if you declare them. Medications, baby formula/food and breast milk are allowed in reasonable quantities exceeding 3.4 ounces, and they don’t have to be in the zip-top bag, but they must be declared for inspection at the checkpoint before you send your bag into the x-ray tunnel. If in doubt, put your liquids, gels, aerosols, creams and pastes in your checked baggage. But make sure they are not HazMat, because certain chemicals are not allowed in either carry-on or checked bags.
For a full list of prohibited carry-on items, check out the TSA website.