TAMPA — Nearly twice as many people as usual have been caught with guns in their bags at Tampa Bay area airports so far this month, federal officials said Tuesday.
In all, 15 guns turned up in passenger carry-on bags scanned at Transportation Security Administration checkpoints through Monday — 12 at Tampa International Airport, two at Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport and one at St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport.
That’s nearly double what security officers say they found during October 2018. Trying to carry a gun onto a plane could mean being arrested and having to pay civil fines. Statewide, 418 guns have turned up so far this year in passenger bags at Florida airports through Monday. If that pace continues, authorities are worried that the total number found this year could exceed the 529 discovered during all of last year.
“Passengers are responsible for the contents of bags they bring to the checkpoint,” Transportation Security Administration regional spokesman Mark Howell said in announcing the spike. “Our advice is to look through bags thoroughly before coming to the airport to make sure there are no illegal or prohibited items.”