Number of seized guns triples at Charlotte airport

Number of seized guns triples at Charlotte airport

CHARLOTTE, NC (Joe Marusak/The Charlotte Observer) - Federal officers have seized about three times the number of guns in carry-ons at Charlotte Douglas International Airport so far this year, and the busy spring break month has just begun.

Last year at this time, officers with the Transportation Security Administration had seized four guns at the airport.

The number has soared to 13 this year, and all of the guns were loaded, TSA spokeswoman Sari Koshetz said Tuesday.

Anyone caught with a handgun in carry-on luggage can be arrested by Charlotte-Mecklenburg police and face a fine from the TSA of up to $11,000, Koshetz said.

As spring break month kicks in, the TSA released the gun figures as a reminder to keep prohibited items from your carry-ons.

TSA also urged travelers to get to the airport two hours before flight time to reduce stress.

TSA normally screens nearly 2 million passengers daily nationwide. With passenger volumes up more than 7 percent over the same period last year, officials said they expect passenger volumes to drastically increase throughout March and this summer.

Passengers who take guns and other prohibited items to the checkpoint slow screening for themselves and everyone behind them, TSA officials said.

If in doubt about an item, use the "When I fly can I bring my…" tool on to make sure your item is permitted in carry-on and checked baggage.

Passengers are allowed to travel with unloaded firearms in locked hard-sided containers as checked baggage, according to TSA rules. The firearms and ammunition must be declared at ticket counters when checking bags.

In February, Charlotte lawyer John Fennebresque, the former UNC Board of Governors chairman, was arrested after authorities found a small handgun in his briefcase as he passed through a security checkpoint at Charlotte Douglas.

Police charged him with misdemeanor possession of a firearm on city property. He was released on $500 bail.

Fennebresque told the Observer he didn't know the gun was in the briefcase. "It was an honest, stupid mistake," he said.