Airport screeners in Las Vegas found 59 guns and an inactive grenade in passengers’ carry-on luggage last year.
Figures released by the Transportation Security Administration show the total number of firearms found in carry-on bags at McCarran International Airport represented a slight drop compared with 2017, when 62 firearms were discovered. Nationwide, the trend went the opposite way.
“Passengers are bringing them (firearms) to airports in higher numbers,” TSA spokeswoman Lorie Dankers told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “Officers are pretty good at finding them in the X-ray.”
Officers found 4,239 firearms in luggage at airport security checkpoints across the country in 2018. That’s a 7 percent increase over the year.
The grenade that a passenger tried to get past security in Las Vegas was discovered Nov. 27. Dankers said experts quickly determined it was not active, avoiding an extended shutdown of the security area.
“Explosive devices remain the biggest threat to aviation,” she said. “There’s other items as well, and our officers are looking to keep those out of the cabins in our aircrafts.”
Protocols call for all screenings to stop at a given location when a potentially explosive device is found. Screenings resume after an explosives expert inspects the device.
Other unusual items have previously been found in luggage at McCarran. TSA agents found a live purple smoke bomb in 2016. Several keychains with bullets attached given as souvenirs at a gun industry trade show were confiscated in 2012.
Items found at other airports during 2018 include a bottle of lighter fluid, fireworks and replica mortar shells.
Dankers said passengers who bring a firearm to an airport security checkpoint face a maximum civil penalty of $10,000. Passengers pay average penalties of $950.
“It’s an expensive mistake,” she said. “Oftentimes you may lose the firearm, and you are delayed and may miss your flight.”