MILWAUKEE — Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers stopped a total of 23 handguns at Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport (MKE) security checkpoints in 2021. That is an increase from the 16 guns caught in 2019.
According to TSA, three firearms have been stopped at MKE checkpoints in 2022 so far. Most recently, on Tuesday around 10 a.m. TSA officers detected a firearm on the X-ray screen. The passenger, a West Bend resident, had a concealed carry permit. A deputy with the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office responded to the checkpoint, confiscated the firearm, which was loaded, and the passenger was issued a citation.
In 2020, 10 firearms were stopped at MKE. In 2019, there were 16 guns stopped, an increase from the 11 guns in 2018.
“While our passenger volumes have not yet fully returned to pre-pandemic levels, we are seeing even higher numbers of firearms, most of them loaded,” Wisconsin TSA Federal Security Director Mark Lendvay said. “Passengers are strictly prohibited from bringing firearms onboard planes, and our TSA officers are laser-focused on security and preventing weapons from getting through our checkpoints.”
According to TSA, nationwide, officers stopped 5,972 firearms at airport checkpoints, surpassing the previous record of 4,432 firearms caught at checkpoints in the full calendar year 2019. This equals a rate of 10.2 per million passengers. Officials say 86 percent of those firearms were loaded.
Officials say TSA may impose civil penalties of up to $13,910 per violation per person. A typical first offense for carrying a loaded handgun into a checkpoint is $4,100.
Passengers are permitted to travel with firearms in checked baggage if they are unloaded, packed separately from ammunition in a locked hardback case and declared at the airline check-in counter, according to TSA.
TSA has details on how to properly travel with a firearm posted on its website.