23 firearms at Milwaukee airport in 2021

TSA officers stopped 23 handguns at Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport security checkpoints in 2021, a notable increase from the 16 guns caught in 2019. It's the most at any airport in Wisconsin but did not make the Top 10 list in terms of firearms stopped at airports across the country.

A Thursday, Jan. 20 press release from the TSA said seven firearms were stopped in 2021 at Dane County Regional, two at Appleton International and LaCrosse Regional and one at Austin Straubel in Green Bay. 

In 2022, three firearms have been detected at MKE checkpoints so far. 

This handgun was detected by TSA officers in a passenger’s carry-on bag at Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport (MKE) on Sept. 13. (TSA photo)

This handgun was detected by TSA officers in a passenger’s carry-on bag at Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport (MKE) on Sept. 13. (TSA photo)

The most recent incident happened Tuesday, Jan. 18, at approximately 10 a.m. A passenger presented a bag for screening, and a TSA officer identified a firearm on the X-ray screen. The passenger, a West Bend resident, had a concealed carry permit. TSA officials immediately alerted the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office. A deputy responded to the checkpoint, confiscated the firearm, which was loaded and issued a citation.

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Firearms stopped by TSA nationwide

The TSA said nationwide, TSA officers stopped 5,972 firearms at airport checkpoints, surpassing the previous record of 4,432 firearms caught at checkpoints in the full calendar year 2019. The figure equals a rate of 10.2 per million passengers, nearly exceeding all previous rates. The majority of those firearms (86%) were loaded. 

This handgun was detected by TSA officers in a passenger’s carry-on bag at Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport on June. 14. (TSA photo)

This handgun was detected by TSA officers in a passenger’s carry-on bag at Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport on June. 14. (TSA photo)

Penalties

The TSA noted that firearms at checkpoints represent an unnecessary risk and an expensive mistake for passengers who do not follow proper packing guidance for firearms in checked baggage. 

TSA may impose civil penalties of up to $13,910 per violation per person. A typical first offense for carrying a loaded handgun into a checkpoint is $4,100. If a traveler with a gun is a member of TSA PreCheck®, that individual will lose their TSA PreCheck privileges for a period of time. 

TSA intercepts gun at Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport

TSA intercepts gun at Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport

How to pack firearms

The TSA advises passengers are permitted to travel with firearms in checked baggage if they are unloaded, packed separately from ammunition in a locked hardback case and declared at the airline check-in counter. Travelers should check for firearm laws in the jurisdictions they are flying to and from. 

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