TULSA, Okla. — The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) says it has confiscated an unusually high number of guns from the security checkpoints at Tulsa and Oklahoma City’s airports.
Wednesday, TSA showcased not just a couple of guns but also multiple weapons it had turned over to them by people unwilling or unable to return the items to their vehicles or pack them into their checked luggage.
“We are trying to prevent the next 9/11,” TSA Spokeswoman Patricia Mancha said. “Anything we’ve stopped from going through has been used as a weapon or to hurt someone in the past.”
Mancha said the most common excuse or reason people have given when they are caught with a weapon in their carry-on bags is that they forgot it was in there.
“We are not anti-gun,” she said. “You can travel with your gun. We are just encouraging people and reminding them that there is a safe and proper way to do it.”
TSA broke a 20-year record (the agency was created after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks) on how many guns it collected from passengers across the U.S., and Oklahoma played a significant role in those high numbers.
“We broke the record for a single year last October, and so when you think about it, we broke the record before we could even take into account the holiday traffic where more weapons were stopped before the year was through,” Mancha said.
Geno Constantino has been working in airport security at Tulsa International Airport for 20 years. He said people forgetting about their guns has always happened, but when Oklahoma went from concealed carry to open carry recently, the number of times people forgetting about their firearm has increased.
“With some people having a gun on them all the time, they just don’t notice it anymore until they get to the security checkpoint and remember it’s there,” Constantino said.
95 guns were found at Oklahoma airport in 2021 by TSA, and that number includes statistics from Lawton and Stillwater’s airports as well.
TSA encourages gun owners to check in for their flights at least two hours beforehand to make sure if they are checking a gun, they can do so properly with enough time for the proper screenings and safety measures to take place.
TSA said they will not take your gun, but instead, they will contact the local authorities to have them handle the weapon and decide what to do with it in the future. A single violation can lead to a fine of up to $14,000, and the fines go up for repeat offenders.
“Most people who we stop for weapons, don’t make their originally scheduled flights,” Mancha said. “Weapons just slow everything down, and it can ruin your plans very fast.”
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