May 25, 2017
By David Bauerlein
At Jacksonville’s International Airport’s security checkpoint, there’s no telling what strange and dangerous stuff Transportation Security Administration workers will find.
In carry-on bags they’ve seen guns — some loaded — and replicas of guns. They’ve seen knives and brass knuckles. One studded purse had brass knuckles welded to it. Then there are the head-scratcher items like a bright green bowling pin, a barbecue spatula and a power drill.
Those are some of the many items that passengers tried to bring with them through the security on their way to catch planes out of Jacksonville in the past year.
Even in an era when air travel comes with longstanding expectations that baggage will get scrutiny for everything including the size of shampoo containers, some travelers haven’t gotten the message about what’s allowed, officials said while showing off the taboo items Thursday at Jacksonville International Airport.
“They’re just not paying attention,” said Sari Koshetz of the Transportation Security Administration. “There’s a certain amount of stress that goes with traveling, and people unfortunately do not pay attention to what’s in the bag.”
She said TSA workers stopped passengers from taking 33 guns onto Jacksonville flights in 2016. One passenger tried to carry on 191 rounds of ammunition. So far this year, they’ve found 13 guns.
Passengers can face fines of up to $11,000 for bringing guns to checkpoints. They also can be arrested, depending on the policy of local law enforcement assigned to airports.
Koshetz said passengers traveling with guns must put them into checked baggage. Guns must be in locked, hard-sided cases. They must be unloaded and travelers must declare them to airlines at the check-in counter.
She said TSA agents give travelers the option of taking forbidden items back to their vehicles or checking their carry-on bags. If passengers refuse, TSA will take the items before passengers can proceed through security checkpoints.
While guns and knives are obvious red flags, other items can get caught in screenings. The bowling pin, for instance, is the kind of heavy object that can be used a bludgeon. The spatula that ended up on the display table at Thursday’s event has serrated edges that can be used like a knife.