SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Going through TSA checkpoints ahead of your flight may seem daunting, but the work they do to keep everyone safe pays off.
A recent incident involving a handgun at the Sioux Falls Regional Airport shows the importance of security checkpoints.
During a routine check of carry-on bags this past Tuesday, TSA agents spotted a loaded handgun in a traveler’s backpack on the X-ray screen. This is not the first incident of the year either.
A lot of people pass through these checkpoints every day, and TSA agents are watching closely. They’ve confiscated four guns at the checkpoint this year alone. It was nine last year.
Minnehaha County Sheriff Captain Adam Zishka says Tuesday’s incident involved a gun that was reported stolen.
“Which adds another dimension into this incident. In this case, Sioux Falls Police took the person with the gun into custody, and he was arrested on the possession of a stolen firearm charge,” Zishka said.
Those are just the local charges. As authorities investigate, federal charges could be pressed as well.
TSA recently announced that the penalty for trying to bring weapons through security can reach as high as $14,950 depending on the circumstances.
Accident or not, the situation is not taken lightly.
“When it was found by TSA, they denied they knew it was in there. One of the excuses the deputies often times hear is ‘I forgot it in my backpack’ or ‘I didn’t realize it was in my backpack or my coat,’ or wherever they find it. And so they were able to locate it, the deputies that work at the airport were immediately able to contact the Air Marshall Service and the Sioux Falls Police Department and they started questioning the individual about the origins of the gun,” Zishka said.
Zishka says it comes down to being a responsible gun owner.
“You need to know where your firearm is, because you are accountable to that firearm, and you need to check your bags prior to coming into the screening process at the airport. TSA is very good at what they do, and they will find your firearm, and then you will lose your firearm, ultimately,” he said.
Norma Spanton was headed to Spokane, Washington on Thursday and says it makes her feel reassured that TSA agents are doing their job to keep people safe.
“It makes me happy that they’re doing what they’re suppose to be doing. A lot of times, I think TSA gets a bad rap of the things that people don’t like that they do, and this is exactly the things that they are suppose to be doing, so it’s great. It makes me feel safe,” she said.
Passengers are permitted to travel with firearms in checked baggage if they are unloaded, packed separately from ammunition in a locked hardback case and declared at the airline check-in counter. Gun laws vary by state and locality, so travelers should check the laws of where they are flying to as well.
The TSA has details on how to properly travel with firearms on their website.