SAN ANTONIO – Transportation Security Administration officers intercepted a record amount of firearms from passengers nationally in 2022, and San Antonio International Airport was no different.
A total of 108 firearms were found in carry-on luggage at San Antonio International Airport last year compared to just 65 in 2021.
According to TSA, officers intercepted a firearm for every 47,671 passengers at San Antonio International Airport.
“There’s multiple reasons likely. One is that Texas has more liberal gun laws, so people when they leave their home, they grab their keys, they grab their wallet, they grab their gun, and that’s what they do when they go everywhere,” said Patricia Mancha, TSA spokesperson for Texas. “At no point, at no time is a gun or any gun component allowed in your carry-on. No guns, no bullets, no silencers.”
TSA reports that South Texas airports from San Antonio to Laredo to the Rio Grande Valley saw a record number of firearm discoveries last year — 145 compared to 89 in 2021. Many of these weapons are often loaded.
“That’s just too many guns for an airport this small and we really want to remind people that it’s important as a responsible gun owner to always know where your gun is,” said Mancha.
TSA wants to remind people they can travel with a firearm in checked luggage, but there are steps they have to take beforehand.
“Make sure that your gun is unloaded, no bullets. That it’s packed in a hard-sided container and that it’s locked with a padlock and that you declare your gun with the airline,” said Mancha.
“There’s a form they have to sign that goes with the firearm. When every piece of luggage is screened and checked, our officers will see the gun and we’ll automatically look for that declaration form. If the declaration form is missing, then they look at the tag of the luggage, identify the traveler, call the traveler out to make sure there was no miscommunication. Based on that, they will take the next steps,” said Mancha.
Mancha also noted that many people are now traveling with novelty items that are not allowed.
“Nothing that looks like a grenade or a bomb is allowed to travel either in your checked luggage or your carry-on even if it’s inert,” said Mancha. “We’re seeing a lot of novelty items, grenade-shaped perfume bottles, grenade-shaped salt-and-pepper shakers, grenade-shaped or hollowed-out grenades. Any of those objects are not allowed.”
The agency recently increased the maximum fine for firearm violations. The penalties can be costly for people who do not follow the rules.
“If someone failed to declare, they are subject to fines of up to $15,000 and the police is called in every case when an undeclared gun is found, whether it’s in your carry-on luggage or your checked luggage,” said Mancha.
San Antonio ranked fourth in firearms found compared to other Texas metropolitan areas.
Dallas-Fort Worth airports (DFW and Love Field) ranked first with 512 firearms intercepted, Houston area airports (Bush Intercontinental and Hobby) ranked second with 423 firearms intercepted and Austin-Bergstrom ranked third with 150 firearms intercepted.