Charlotte Airport, located in Charlotte, North Carolina, has earned the Tar Heel State another record. Not only is North Carolina the location of the first successful powered flight by a human, but 2017 witnessed a record number of guns being found by the Transport Security Administration (TSA).
Over 60 guns have been found by TSA officials at Charlotte Airport in 2017, compared with the 54 found in 2016, and the 42 found in 2015. One man was stopped with a Glock 42 in a pocket holster. Clearly a fan of concealed carry, he didn’t account for the metal detectors.
On one Tuesday in November, a loaded .45 was found in one man’s shoulder bag in the morning, and later the same day another a loaded 9mm was found in another person’s bag. Both men were questioned by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department officers, who confiscated the guns and cited each individual on a state weapons charge.
Police don’t believe the incidents were related. Both men claimed to have forgotten they were carrying loaded guns. TSA’s North Carolina Federal Security Director Kevin Frederick said of the incident: “If someone owns a firearm, they should know where it is at all times, the TSA officers here at Charlotte are good at their jobs, as evidenced by these gun catches. However, we would rather that people pack their guns properly for travel or leave them home.”
Charlotte’s dubious accolade proves that North Carolina has a strong culture of people using their Second Amendment rights, surely proven by the passing in June of an omnibus gun rights bill that would ease concealed handgun laws.
According to recent surveys, the Tar Heel State has a gun ownership rate of 28.7 percent, just a fraction below the national average, but a long way behind the 61.7 percent of Alaskans who own firearms.
Carolinians shouldn’t be too proud of their newest record, however, as guns have been banned on planes ever since the Gun Control Act of 1968, long before most of us first flew. The two men who had “forgotten” they were carrying loaded guns should be much more mindful of what they’re carrying, as airport security is extremely tight these days, and those breaking the rules can lose their items, face civil penalties, and even criminal charges for bringing the wrong stuff onto a plane.
Gun ownership has skyrocketed since the late 1980s, now open to nearly anyone in the US. Baring outright felons, almost any American adult can own a gun, regardless of their credit history. This cultural change has brought about the changes in TSA regulation.
Current TSA guidelines allow the transportation of unloaded firearms in a locked hard-sided container which keeps the firearm completely secure as checked baggage only. Customers must declare the firearm and/or ammunition to the airline when checking your bag at the ticket counter.
Individuals who bring firearms to the checkpoint are subject to possible criminal charges from law enforcement and civil penalties from TSA of up to $12,000.