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TSA gun detection

This loaded handgun was detected at the Pittsburgh International Airport checkpoint by TSA officers in December 2018.

Transportation Security Administration officers Thursday said it set a new record for the number of guns caught at airport checkpoints last year, though numbers are down in Pennsylvania.

The number of guns found at airports has increased every year since 2008 across the country, with 926 guns in 2008 to the most recent number of 4,239 firearms discovered in carry-on bags at checkpoints.

TSA said that averages about 11.6 firearms per day, which is a 7 percent increase nationally from the 3,957 guns detected in 2017. Of the guns found last year, 86 percent were loaded and 34 percent had a bullet in the chamber.

Though numbers were higher nationwide, gun numbers overall in Pennsylvania were lower than last year. Some, like Harrisburg International Airport, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport and Arnold Palmer Regional Airport saw the same number of gun detections as the previous year, six, one and two, respectively.

Lehigh Valley International Airport and Pittsburgh International Airport saw an increase of two more guns than last year, but Phildelphia International Airport's numbers decreased from 35 guns in 2017 to 25 guns in 2018.

The five airports across the country that found the most firearms last year were Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International with 298, Dallas/Fort Worth International with 219, Phoenix Sky Harbor International with 129, Denver International with 126 and Orlando International with 123.

TSA said passengers are permitted to travel with firearms in checked baggage if they are unloaded, packed in a hard-side case, locked and packed separately from ammunition, which must be in its original box and also packed in a hard-side case. Firearms must be brought to the airline check-in counter, with the airline representative informed that the passenger wants to travel with a gun.

Firearms are transported inside checked baggage and are placed in the belly of the aircraft, according to TSA.

Those who bring weapons to a checkpoint are subject to federal civil penalties of up to $13,000, with a typical first offense at $3,900.

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