Guns in Airport Carry-on Bags
One local airport is seeing a drastic increase in passengers coming to security checkpoints with guns in their carry-on bags.
Officials at Greenville-Spartanburg Airport (GSP) say that so far this year, 12 people have been caught at the checkpoint with weapons in their carry-ons. That is on pace to nearly triple the amount of incidents last year at the same airport.
"If you present here at the airport and you are attempting to take a firearm through the screening checkpoint...you will be charged with violating rules and regulations of the airport, which carries a $473 fine. Then you'll be subject to civil penalties by TSA and the Department of Homeland Security, and those could be significant fines," says Rosilyn Weston, VP of Communications for GSP Airport. "Depending on circumstances, you could face jail time."
Ignorance of the law, or simply forgetting the weapon is in your bag, won't help you.
"That's not an excuse. The fact that you didn't know doesn't prohibit you from being prosecuted and/or fined," says Weston.
Beyond the civil penalties, you'll also face some difficulties as a gun owner.
"If [you] hold a concealed weapons permit, we do send it to SLED and it will be revoked. The firearms occasionally are returned. Majority of the time they're destroyed," says Capt. Mitchell Cole of the GSP Airport Police.
Some passengers say they can understand how it happens. Rick Beasley travels through GSP on business from his home in Mississippi. He just got his concealed weapons permit a few months ago, and says he's not used to having it on him.
"I think they forget about it," says Beasley. But he still thinks passengers who bring a weapon accidentally still need to face the consequences. "It's the law. If you're gonna get the permit, you have to follow the process and do the right thing or you'll get in trouble."
TSA guidelines for traveling with a weapon state that you must have it in a hard case, unloaded, inside of or as its own checked baggage. The detailed guidelines can be found here.
By Evan Donovan
Follow Evan on Twitter @EvanDonovanNews