Jan. 25--It was guns galore at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood and Orlando international airports, as both cracked the nation's top 10 for intercepted firearms in 2013.
Orlando International was eighth in the nation and first in Florida with 47 guns caught. The Fort Lauderdale airport was ranked ninth in the nation and second in the state with 45 firearms, the Transportation Security Administration said Friday.
Those ahead of the Florida airports: Atlanta, 111 guns; Dallas-Fort Worth, 96; Houston Intercontinental, 68; Phoenix, 66; Denver, 51 and Seattle, 49. Nashville was tied with Orlando with 47 guns, and Las Vegas rounded out the top 10 with 39.
Unranked were Miami International with 24 and Palm Beach International with 11 guns spotted.
"It's certainly nothing we're proud of," said Greg Meyer, spokesman for the Fort Lauderdale airport. "But we're glad the TSA is finding the guns."
TSA spokeswoman Sari Koshetz said passengers frequently forget they left guns in their baggage from a previous trip and are surprised when officers find them.
"Passengers need to unpack before they pack for a trip," she said. "You may have used that suitcase for a road trip, so you may have any number of prohibited items inside. Ask yourself where your gun is before you leave the house."
Most of South Florida's airports saw an increase in intercepted guns, as 42 firearms were found in Fort Lauderdale, 11 in Miami and 41 in Orlando in 2012. The West Palm Beach airport, however, saw a decrease last year, as 18 guns were discovered in 2012.
Many of the guns intercepted at South Florida airports last year were loaded. Most violators were charged with carrying a concealed weapon, a first-degree misdemeanor, and given a notice to appear in court. Most made their flights.
Why the Fort Lauderdale airport is a magnet for firearms, more so than much larger airports, such as Miami International, is a mystery that airport officials can't figure out.
One theory is that Fort Lauderdale sees more repeat domestic passengers than many other airports, and that familiarity may make travelers lackadaisical about checking if they left a firearm in their carry-on items.
In all, the TSA discovered 1,813 firearms at 205 U.S. airports last year, or an average of almost five guns per day. That was a 16.5 percent increase over the 1,556 guns intercepted in 2012. Additionally, 562 stun guns were discovered in carry-on bags nationwide last year.
Bob Burns, who writes a blog on the TSA's online site, tsa.gov, said officers were able to spot so many guns because they have been trained to be vigilant.
"In many ways, transportation security officers are the public face of our nation's security," he said. "It is difficult work, requiring patience, stamina, and great attention to detail."
email@example.com or 561-243-6530.
Copyright 2014 - Sun Sentinel
Orlando International Airport ended 2013 with more gun arrests than any other Florida airport, according to the federal Transportation Security Administration
An armed passenger stopped by TSA last week received concierge-style service from the Orlando Sanford International Airport Police Department
The TSA sent a total of 160 screeners to Miami, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa and San Juan airports where they will spend the week searching employees, checking their ID badges and searching...
Feb. 10--Oklahomans headed to the airport aren't just packed. Sometimes they're packing. Tulsa and Oklahoma City ranked in the top 10 among the nation's busiest airports for per capita gun seizures...