TSA caught 132 guns at Sky Harbor in 2019, among most at US airports

Jan 16, 2020, 6:30 PM
(Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport Photo)...
(Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport Photo)
(Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport Photo)

PHOENIX – Travelers got caught with guns at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport at an alarming clip last year.

Transportation Security Administration officers found 132 firearms at Sky Harbor security checkpoints in 2019, the agency announced Wednesday, the fifth-highest total in the U.S.

Nationwide, 4,432 guns were discovered at security last year, 5% more than in 2018 and an all-time high. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International was No. 1 with 323.

“We believe that the numbers are going up because record numbers of people are traveling, and with more passengers you’ll find more incidents like that,” TSA spokeswoman Lorie Dankers told KTAR News 92.3 FM.

Dankers said 87% of the weapons found were loaded, “and the vast majority of those have one in the chamber.”

Despite that, Dankers said Sky Harbor visitors shouldn’t be fearful.

“They [guns] don’t pose a threat to public safety in terms of people traveling in and out of the airport, and they can have confidence that we’ll make sure that this does not create an incident,” she said.

The typical fine for a first offense of having a handgun at a checkpoint is $4,100, with penalties going up to $13,000 depending on the weapon.

While it’s always illegal to take guns through security checkpoints, even with a concealed carry permit, they can be transported in checked baggage if packed properly.

They must be unloaded and secured with the ammunition, placed in its original box, inside a hard-sided case with at least two locks. The case should be packed in a checked bag, and the firearm must be declared.

“They have a certain procedure that they’ll have you follow,” Dankers said. “They’ll have you sign a form. Place that in your checked baggage, and that firearm will travel in the belly of the aircraft and you’ll be able to claim it at your destination.”

Dankers said violators often say they forgot they were carrying their guns or had put them in their carry-on bags.

“That is not an acceptable excuse,” she said. “The first rule of firearm ownership is to know where your gun is at all times.”

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Peter Samore contributed to this report.

Lifetime Windows & Doors

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

Downtown Phoenix. (Screenshot/City of Phoenix Webcam)...

Weekend wrap-up: Here are the biggest Arizona stories from Dec. 2-4

Storms across the Valley over the weekend left some residents without power and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona wants solutions for Title 42.
1 day ago
(Photo by Eric Thayer/Getty Images)...
Associated Press

Case against former Tucson officer heading back to grand jury

A manslaughter case against former Tucson, Arizona police Officer Ryan Remington is going back to a grand jury.
1 day ago
(Facebook Photo/Phoenix Police Department)...

Fiery crash over the weekend leaves 3 dead, 2 injured in Phoenix

Three people were killed after their vehicle caught fire when it was rear-ended by a vehicle with two men inside on Saturday night in Phoenix.
1 day ago
Rain in the West Valley, via Arizona Department of Transportation Traffic Camera...

Weekend storm sets new daily rain record in Phoenix

Recent storms passing across the Valley set new rainfall records at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport on Saturday.
1 day ago
An American bald eagle flies over Mill Pond on July 29, 2018 in Centerport, New York.  (Photo by Br...
Alex Weiner

Arizona Game and Fish takes measures to avoid disturbing bald eagles during breeding season

Bald eagle mating season is here, and wildlife officials in Arizona are warning recreationists and pilots to avoid disturbing breeding areas. 
1 day ago
(Federal American Grill Photo)...
Brandon Brown/Phoenix Business Journal

Houston restaurant to open first Arizona location in Scottsdale

Federal American Grill, a restaurant concept based in Houston, will open its first Arizona location in Scottsdale in the coming weeks.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

(Desert Institute for Spine Care photo)...

Why DISC is world renowned for back and neck pain treatments

Fifty percent of Americans and 90% of people at least 50 years old have some level of degenerative disc disease.
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet can improve everyday life

Quantum Fiber supplies unlimited data with speeds up to 940 mbps, enough to share 4K videos with coworkers 20 times faster than a cable.
Children’s Cancer Network

Children’s Cancer Network celebrates cancer-fighting superheroes, raises funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Jace Hyduchak was like most other kids in his kindergarten class: He loved to play basketball, dress up like his favorite superheroes and jump as high as his pint-sized body would take him on his backyard trampoline.
TSA caught 132 guns at Sky Harbor in 2019, among most at US airports