TSA tries to slow firearm crisis in Florida airports during peak vacation season

The Transportation Security Administration is offering reminders to air travelers of firearm regulations as the busy summer travel months roll on.

The slogan of TSA’s message is “don’t let your vacation cost you more than you planned.”

Sari Koshetz, the TSA spokesperson for Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, said in June that TSA officers had intercepted 395 firearms in airports across the state of Florida this year, adding that the number is “setting the unfortunate likelihood of another record in 2022.”

Koshetz’s findings came after TSA officers had seized nearly 200 firearms in Florida airports halfway into April.

“Don’t go to jail instead of on vacation,” Koshetz said.

Through June, TSA had stopped 77 passengers transporting firearms illegally at Orlando International Airport, 73 passengers at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, 54 passengers at Tampa International Airport and 44 passengers at Miami International Airport.

TSA also declared in a statewide press release last year that the number of travelers entering TSA checkpoints carrying guns “has risen dramatically both across the state and nationally,” and this year appears to be no different.

The problem can trace back to 2020, when Orlando International Airport and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport were in the top 10 airports in the U.S. for the most travelers carrying firearms illegally.

“Carrying prohibited items into the checkpoint will slow your security process and could be a very expensive mistake,” Deputy Federal Security Director Greg Hawko said.

Unloaded firearms must be declared at the ticket counter while checking the bag. The firearm must be placed in a locked container and transported as checked baggage only.

Failure to comply with the regulations may result in fines up to $13,910 and/or an arrest.

If a TSA officer suspects an item to be a possible threat, they must call an explosive specialist to evaluate the item. The procedure affects the itinerary of the flights and causes delays and cancellations for all passengers.

As the summer months continue, heavy air traffic — especially in a tourist-centric state like Florida — will be a constant. As long as the firearm crisis continues along with it, so, too, might those delays and cancellations.

Kejsi Kajo is an Albanian digital journalism student. She aspires to publish her own book in a few years. Kajo is very keen on communication studies and sciences. She enjoys painting on her free time.