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Traveling with firearms? Check the rules

TSA officials are reminding airport travelers that the only legal way to carry a firearm on a commercial airline is in checked luggage. Last year, 12 passengers were stopped for attempting to carry a firearm through the Sacramento International Airport checkpoint.
TSA officials are reminding airport travelers that the only legal way to carry a firearm on a commercial airline is in checked luggage. Last year, 12 passengers were stopped for attempting to carry a firearm through the Sacramento International Airport checkpoint. efletcher@sacbee.com

With more travelers being stopped for illegally attempting to transport firearms through security checkpoints, the Transportation Security Administration went on a public relations blitz Thursday in hopes of making sure more people know the rules.

TSA workers last year found over 2,000 guns at airport security checkpoints nationwide, more than triple the roughly 600 guns found a decade earlier, said Nico Melendez, a TSA spokesman. Melendez spoke at the TSA event at Sacramento International Airport, where he displayed some of the weapons confiscated from passengers in recent years.

“In Sacramento alone last year, we found 12 firearms in the carry-on bags of passengers, six of them were loaded and six of them were unloaded,” Melendez said. “Just last week, another passenger forgot a gun was in his bag.”

Violators face a civil penalty of up to $10,000 from the TSA and could face additional criminal penalties from law enforcement, Melendez said.

Airline passengers are allowed to transport firearms and other weapons during air travel, but weapons, including guns, must travel with checked luggage, Melendez said.

An increasing number of California residents are getting licensed to carry firearms. Statewide, the number of people permitted to carry firearms rose 72 percent between 2011 and 2013, up from 32,666 to 56,341 according to numbers compiled by The Calguns Foundation.

In Sacramento County, residents licensed to carry a concealed weapon more than quadrupled from 897 in 2011 to 3,764 in 2013. The number of people licensed to carry guns in El Dorado County experienced a similar increase from 506 to 2,028 over that same period.

Placer County saw a 65 percent increase over that period from 1,205 to 1,994 permits issued. The number of people licensed to carry in Yolo County was nearly flat, up 11 permits from 2011 when 125 permits were issued to 2013 when 136 permits were issued.

Call The Bee’s Ed Fletcher, (916) 321-1269. Follow him on Twitter @NewsFletch.

Number of people nationwide cited for entering an airport checkpoint with a firearm

2005: 660

2006: 821

2007: 803

2008: 926

2009: 976

2010: 1,123

2011: 1,320

2012: 1,556

2013: 1,813

Source: TSA

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