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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – More than half a million people are expected to fly in and out of Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport this Memorial Day holiday, and one of the many things that the Transportation Security Administration is worried about — loaded guns.
You can never have a gun in your carry-on bag but numbers released by TSA show that in the past two weeks alone — six people have arrived at security checkpoints at FLL with guns.
All but one was loaded and some had a bullet in the chamber.
Even though the vast majority of those cases are people who simply forgot they had a gun on them, it’s still a major concern for TSA.
“We are very concerned that there could be tragic results,” said TSA Spokesperson Sari Koshetz. “You’ve seen people at a checkpoint where they pick up their carry-on luggage and they literally fling it onto the x-ray belt, if that gun is loaded with ammunition, chambered, that could be very dangerous.”
TSA officials say they broke a record this month for firearms recovered in one week at checkpoints throughout the country. Several of those were found in Fort Lauderdale and Miami.
The numbers don’t surprise Walter Philbrick, a firearms instructor, private investigator and former cop.
He says the number of concealed weapons permits in Florida and in the US is skyrocketing.
He teaches his students that if they decide to carry a gun they need to think about where they’re carrying it.
“If you carry a gun, you go to the airport or courthouses places restricted, you gotta think about going there, what should I not take, leave my gun at home, leave it in the car or check it in the luggage,” said Philbrick. “The guns are so small now, you kind of forget you’re carrying it.”
So far this year, 29 guns have been stopped at TSA airport checkpoints at FLL and 16 at Miami International Airport.
The May cases at FLL give a glimpse into the mindset of people traveling with a gun.
Here’s a sample quotes from the Broward Sheriff’s Office incident reports:
“He forgot he was in possession of the handgun and was very apologetic,” according to one report.
“He was in a rush and forgot to remove the gun from his bag,” said another traveler.
Another: “He had simply forgotten that the handgun was inside his bag prior to entering the TSA checkpoint.”
Yet another traveler: “She forgot to remove the firearm from her purse prior to arriving at the airport.”
In each of those cases, no one was arrested.
In most cases the people who bring guns to a security checkpoint are allowed to give those weapons to someone outside the airport and then continue their travels. If there is no one for them to leave their gun with, they have to check it or make other arrangements.
However, TSA tells me that the mistake has serious consequences. People will be fined by TSA for bringing a gun to a checkpoint and the fines can be as much as $11,000.
One traveler we spoke with thinks he has a solution.
“What they need to do, they need to jail them,” said Nathaniel Ferguson. “Then it would stop.”
But guns in carry-on bags shows no signs of stopping.
Since 2013, TSA says the number of firearms stopped at checkpoints across the country has nearly doubled and they expect to break another record this year.
“It is a record we do not want to set,” said Koshetz.