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KCI on track for record number of guns discovered in carry-on bags this year

Posted at 5:21 PM, Jul 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-24 23:52:37-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo.  — The number of passengers packing heat in carry-on bags at Kansas City International Airport security checkpoints is on a record-breaking track in 2019.

"It's more than tripled from six years ago," Deputy Assistant Federal Security Director Tim Goodman said.

The number of guns discovered at Transportation Security Administration checkpoints at KCI grew from 14 in 2013 to a high of 64 in 2017.

Despite a slight dip last year, Goodman expects to hit a record 70 firearm discoveries by the end of the year. There have been 35 guns discovered as of July 15.

TSA agents hear one common excuse.

"They forgot it was in their bag," Goodman said. "They didn't realize they had it with them."

That may be a reasonable explanation for something like cologne, bottled water or scissors, but some passengers we spoke with at KCI were skeptical when it came to guns.

"I would think you would know if you had a gun in your carry on," traveler Brian Rouse said. "I would think that."

Fellow passenger Jessica Itano added, "It seems like something you would want to think about, but if it's something that's second nature to them and they carry everywhere, I guess it kind of makes sense."

There's not one definitive answer as to why the number of guns discovered continues to increase. On the national level, the TSA pointed to the fact that air travel increased significantly from 2017 to 2018, while security techniques continue to advance and more people have guns.

[GALLERY: Strange items abandoned at KCI checkpoints]

You can legally carry a concealed weapon without a permit in both Kansas and Missouri.

"Regardless of the state laws in any state, on a commercial aircraft, guns are not allowed," Goodman said.

Bringing a gun through a checkpoint triggers a federal penalty that could put a damper on future travel plans.

"That fine is as much as $13,000," Goodman said.

Some prohibited items surrendered at checkpoints, like knives and stun guns, go into a storage room at KCI. A federal contractor picks them up once a month.

However, the process is different for guns.

KCI police will keep a firearm in custody until an owner takes certain steps for the gun to be returned.

It's more incentive to pack heat properly and in a checked bag. An unloaded gun should be packed in a lockable hard case and declared to airline staff.