Love Field and TSA officials have a message for the public: STOP CARRYING GUNS THROUGH SECURITY. SERIOUSLY, GUYS.
Fifteen travelers tried to carry guns through the Love Field security checkpoint this year -- that's compared to one person in the same period of time last year. Holy shit, right? That's a 1500 percent increase.
Of those fifteen, six were arrested this month. And as airport officials reminded Unfair Park: the month isn't over.
We spoke with Amy Williams, the TSA Federal Security Director at Love Field, who is doing her best to raise awareness to the fact that an increasing number of travelers seem to think it's alright to carry guns on planes.
If six arrests for carrying guns through security is a lot in a month, what's typical? It is a lot. From January of 2011 through the end of April of 2011, we actually discovered only one firearm. And for the same time period for 2012, we've actually discovered 15 firearms with six of those being during the month of April. Of course we've looked at it from many different angles and the common denominator in these arrests are these are people who have a concealed handgun license. So our message that we're wanting to get out is that an airport is a place where weapons are prohibited. Even if you have a concealed handgun license, you're still not allowed to bring your weapon through the security checkpoint.
Do you have a sense of how it measures up -- percentage-wise -- to DFW or anywhere else? I know that for DFW for this year, they found 16 firearms, we found 15, which is not in proportion to the number of passengers.
And these are all people carrying it right through security? Correct. These were all discovered through the x-ray machines in their carry-on luggage. All of these were found in their carry-on luggage and not on their person.
Who are most of these people? Is there a personality type or a demographic or any category they fit into? The majority of the people are just your average passenger. They've not had any outstanding warrants or anything against them. They're just individuals who have concealed handgun license and simply forget that they have the gun in their bag.
It seems like common sense... I think that they just are so used to having it with them at all times that they simply forget, and in every case, when it's discovered, it's always the exact same comment: "I forgot the gun was in the bag."
And then they're arrested anyway? Exactly, yes. The passenger and their property are taken into custody by the Dallas Police Department. They're charged with a state charge of weapons in a prohibited place. You're going to have to bond out, most likely get an attorney, and then from the federal side, we can levy civil penalties against the individual up to $10,000.
Were any of the arrests surprising, like a little old lady or someone really unexpected? No, they're all just -- really, they were all middle-aged men.
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Why has there been such a significant increase? I think it's just the increase in the number of people who have concealed handgun license and from our standpoint, our airport does lend itself to a lot of first-time travelers, with Southwest Airlines being one of the major carriers at our airport and they do offer a significant number of low fares, and so I think that we have probably more first-time travelers than some of the other airports experience, like DFW.
I would expect a first-time traveler would be so much more careful. I have to be honest with you. I can't relate to it because I don't have a concealed handgun license and I don't carry a gun. The only thing I can equate it to is maybe my makeup bag. I always have my make-up bag with me. I don't go anywhere without it. And so that's the only thing I can equate it with is maybe once you become so accustomed to carrying it with you, you just at some point, forget that it's there. I mean I don't know. I don't understand it.
Why do you think it's important for people to know that April was such a high month? We really think that we need to get out and educate the passengers, especially the ones with concealed handgun licenses and let them know the importance that they can transport that weapon. It just has to be through the checked baggage and following the air carrier's rules.
And that if you bring a firearm to the airport and try to carry it through your carry-on luggage, you will be arrested and will miss your flight. Instead of going on a nice vacation, you're going to be spending time at Lew Sterrett Justice Center. Not the same thing.