Acting head of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Darby LaJoye on Wednesday said there had been an elevated increase in firearms detected at airports last year which doubled from 2019. The trend he says has continued into 2021.
"It really is a fairly substantial increase. When you measure it against per millions, it was double last year than what it was the year prior," LaJoye said, according to The Hill.
In the last week of April alone, the TSA found 120 firearms. "And in just one day," LaJoye added, "on April 23, we detected over 32 firearms. Just in that one day."
LaJoye said that 80 percent of firearms discovered are loaded.
Loaded or unloaded, an unchecked firearm with accessible ammunition carried on a plane or detected at a checkpoint carries a fine between $3,000 and $10,000 and a criminal referral. A repeat violater could see a fine between $10,000 and $13,910. When transporting firearms they must be kept in a locked hard-sided container, unloaded, and be marked as checked baggage.
"The excuse we generally get is they didn't know, they forgot," LaJoey said. He cited that the reoffence rate is "very, very low -- exceedingly low."
"Most airports, when you travel, you're going to see a state or local law enforcement officer right there. So a number of these firearm cases resulted in an arrest," LaJoye said. He went on to mention how "this really is...a public safety concern. It's an officer safety concern."
LaJoye reported during congressional testimony Wednesday before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security that firearms seizures doubled in 2020 compared to 2019.
And Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.) told reporters that "This is a pervasive problem that needs to be addressed. I'll work with my colleagues to determine which commonsense steps we can take to ensure the safety of airline passengers and the TSA agents who are there to protect them."
LaJoye also provided data on mask violations during Wednesday's hearing. Since the mask mandate in Feb., incidents of non-compliance reached 2,071. There have been 43 arrests for non-compliance.
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