Three of the more than 4,000 firearms that Transportation Security Administration officers caught at checkpoints nationwide in 2019 were from Hawaii.
The three interceptions occurred on Feb. 28, July 27 and Nov. 29 at three different Hawaii airports.
On Feb. 28, TSA officers in Hawaii stopped a 36-year-old woman from going through the checkpoint with a handgun and ammunition at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport. Deputy sheriffs arrested the woman on suspicion of firearm and ammunition violations and having an unregistered firearm.
On July 27, TSA officers also intercepted firearms at Lihue Airport and again on Nov. 29 at Hilo International Airport, according to a spokeswoman.
For Hawaii, the three intercepted firearms in 2019 was three less than in 2018, when TSA officers discovered six firearms in carry-on luggage. In 2018, that included three intercepts at the Honolulu airport, one at the Lihue airport, one at Hilo and one Kona International Airport.
The Hawaii numbers are significantly less than TSA’s national numbers, with 4,432 firearms, or an average of 12.1 per day, intercepted in carry-on bags or on passengers — the highest ever in the agency’s 18-year history. Of the total, TSA says 87% were loaded.
The number has been on an upward trend over the last decade — with the latest statistics continuing it. The 4,432 firearms intercepted in 2019 is roughly 5% higher than 2018, when 4,239 firearms were intercepted nationally.
During routine screening of carry-ons, a TSA officer who sees the image of a firearm on an X-ray screen immediately stops and notifies airport law enforcement. Once notified, law enforcement responds, removes the firearm and makes contact with the passenger. What happens to the firearm and the passenger is up to their discretion.
TSA imposes civil penalties on travelers for bringing firearms to the security checkpoint, which start at $2,050, but can reach a maximum of $10,250 per violation. Trusted Traveler and TSA pre-approved benefits are also revoked for a period of time.
Even if a traveler has a concealed weapons permit, firearms, ammunition and parts — including receivers, clips and magazines as well as replicas — are not permitted in carry-on luggage. TSA says 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.” Passengers must also declare them to the airline upon check-in at the ticket counter.
More information on traveling with firearms and ammunition is available at tsa.gov/traveler-information/firearms-and-ammunition.
The top five airports where TSA officers intercepted guns at checkpoints in 2019 were: Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International with 323; Dallas/Fort Worth International with 217; Denver International with 140; George Bush Intercontinental with 138; and Phoenix Sky Harbor International with 132.