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More Guns Being Confiscated At Security Checkpoints
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As sought after as cheap travel options are, including cheap airplane tickets, discount hotel rooms, discount travel packages, and cheap vacation packages are, nothing trumps traveler security.
People are increasingly being caught at airport security checkpoints across the nation with firearms in their carry-on bags. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is the country’s busiest airport and has caught a disproportionate number of travelers trying to carry guns onto planes.
Through early August Atlanta airport security officers seized 67 guns, placing it ahead of last year’s pace and well ahead of the number two gun toting airport - Dallas-Fort Worth International. Nationwide 862 guns have been sized through the first half of 2013, suggesting that last year’s record of 1,556 will be eclipsed.
Georgia has relatively lenient gun carry laws that allow possession by registered owners almost everywhere other than at schools, bars, and places of worship during services.
Firearms were not allowed on any airport property until 2010 when the state Legislature and courts decided that they should be permitted.
Atlanta security officials are concerned with its increasing gun seizures because it strains their security resources. Making gun arrests cuts significantly into law enforcement resources as well as temporarily shutting down security lanes. They have sought in vain to date to come up with a way to convince travelers to leave their guns at home.
Offenders of the policy not to carry guns onto planes almost universally claim that their act was accidental. Excuses range from hiding a gun from children and forgetting about it to grabbing the wrong briefcase while leaving the office.
Licensed gun owners can legally fly with their weapons so long as guns are packed in checked luggage accompanied by the necessary paperwork.
Guns seized at airport security checkpoints are not returned to their owners. Fliers without a record, not only forfeit the firearm, but are also usually directed to pretrial diversion. This entails attending classes and performing community service to avoid criminal charges.
Recent violators at the Atlanta airport have included two rappers, a pro football player, a priest and an off duty pilot, a chamber of commerce president, and executives with a sports collectibles company as well as a Fortune 500 company and an owner of an equestrian farm.
Even stranger is the handful of repeat (as in two-time) arrestees. Infractions are often costly. In additional to court and lawyer fees, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) imposes a fine ranging from $200 to $11,000. The fine varies based on the significance of the security risk, whether the violation was negligent or deliberate, the attitude of the offender and previous indiscretions.
$1,887,745 in fines were collected by the TSA in 2012. Given that fines clearly are not enough of a deterrent, experts have argued that denying the right to fly to offenders would pose a more meaningful deterrent.
Currently only the FBI operates a no fly list and its purpose is solely to stop suspected terrorists from flying.
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