ST. LOUIS- Newly-released data by the Transportation Security Administration shows a spike in the number of weapons confiscated from carry-on baggage at Missouri’s airports last year, with a trend that blows past pre-pandemic figures.
The agency reports 102 firearms were found at St. Louis Lambert International Airport in 2021, believed to be a record for one year here, and more than was found at all eight of the state’s airports in 2020 (85).
The St. Louis total would have fallen outside the top ten for airports nationally, which was topped by the 507 firearms found at Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
The jump from 2020 to 2021 may not have been much of a surprise, considering the reduced amount of passenger travel in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the 2021 figure nearly matches the total number found in pre-pandemic years for 2018 and 2019.
The TSA says it is working with its partners at airports and the airlines to better educate the public about the law, which carries civil and criminal penalties, including a $13,900 fine per violation. While there are steps passengers have to go through at the airport that can warn them about carrying on a gun, TSA spokesman Mark Howell says, “By the time you get to the airport, it’s too late.”
Howell says the agency is trying to get the word out to gun clubs and gun education classes to remind the public that even in an open carry state, even with a concealed weapons permit.
Nationally the TSA says its officers stopped 5,972 firearms at checkpoints, topping a record of 4,432 in 2019. The agency says 86 percent of those firearms were loaded.