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Charleston’s airport had most firearm discoveries in SC last year, TSA says

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.(Live 5)
Published: Jan. 18, 2022 at 12:16 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 18, 2022 at 12:21 PM EST
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NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The Charleston International Airport led South Carolina’s six commercial airports in the number of firearm discoveries in 2021, according to an analysis by the Transportation Safety Administration.

TSA officers discovered a total of 72 firearms in travelers’ carry-on luggage last year, a new annual record for the state, according to TSA spokesman Mark Howell.

The data shows that Charleston International Airport accounted for 30 of those discoveries, up from just 12 in 2020.

Airport2018201920202021
Charleston International Airport (CHS)9181230
Myrtle Beach International (MYR)912913
Greenville-Spartanburg International (GSP)15231317
Columbia Metropolitan Airport (CAE)810711
Hilton Head Island (HXD)0000
Florence Regional (FLO)0001
South Carolina Total41634172

Statewide in 2021, the TSA screened approximately 5.56 million departing travelers at the six commercial South Carolina airports, a 114 percent increase over the total number screened in 2020.

Nationwide, a firearm was detected for every 97,999 passengers screened, Howell said. But in South Carolina, the rate was even higher, with one firearm discovered for every 77,135 passengers screened.

In addition to potential criminal citations, travelers face civil penalties for bringing firearms to the security checkpoint and TSA evaluates each firearm incident on a case-by-case basis. Among the factors TSA considers when determining the civil penalty amount includes whether the firearm was loaded and whether there was accessible ammunition.

“The civil penalty can go up to a maximum of $13,900 per violation,” Howell said. “Even if a traveler has a concealed weapons permit, firearms are not permitted in carry-on luggage.”

Firearms can be transported on a commercial aircraft only if they are unloaded, packed in a locked, hard-sided case and placed in checked baggage. Any type of replica firearm is prohibited in carry-on baggage and must be transported in checked luggage.

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