More firearms being confiscated at nation’s airports including Springfield

Published: Mar. 21, 2023 at 6:39 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 21, 2023 at 8:57 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - The friendly skies have become more unfriendly.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, there were more than 2,300 reports of unruly passengers in 2022. Some 823 of those cases were so severe that they led to investigations. It was the second most violent year after 2021, when close to 1,100 investigations occurred.

Gun violence is also on the rise in our country, so it should come as no surprise that the 6,542 firearms confiscated from airport passengers by the TSA in 2022 set a new record, erasing the previous record from 2021 (5,972).

At the Springfield-Branson National Airport, Police Supervisor Kevin Houseman said he believes the 23 firearms confiscated there also account for a new local record.

  • The recent confiscations year-by-year:
  • 2022- 23
  • 2021- 13
  • 2020- 7
  • 2019- 17
  • 2018- 16

“We’ve had three (firearm confiscations) so far this year,” Houseman said. “It’s just something that we’re used to around here because people have guns and don’t think about what’s in their bag. That seems to be the common denominator. They didn’t remember that it was in their bag.”

Normally cases of bringing a gun to a checkpoint result in just a fine.

“There’s nothing in Springfield or Greene County that we do them criminally,” Houseman pointed out. “But the TSA does have a civil penalty that they will most likely seek against every one of those people who accidentally brings a gun into the checkpoint.”

But the absent-minded excuse no longer holds water if someone tries to disguise a weapon in a carry-on or their luggage. For instance, at JFK Airport, a person placed a gun inside a jar of peanut butter.

“If it’s the artfully-concealed ones, we’re concerned about something like that because that tells us they’re trying to hide or disguise it,” Houseman said.

Another example came in Boston, where the TSA found a sword inside a man’s walking cane.

“We have seen that here,” Houseman said. “We also had a gentleman who put his knife inside a bottle of Mylanta. The x-ray machine saw right through that, and he probably got a nasty fine because he tried to conceal it. He had already come through the checkpoint with it once, got caught, went back out, put it in the Mylanta bottle, and tried to come through with it again. But they caught him that time too. It was not a good idea.”

Of course, weapons aren’t the only thing passengers try to conceal.

“We had a lady last week try to sneak a cat onto the airplane without the knowledge of the airline,” Houseman said.

And when asked if all these fighting incidents and firearm confiscations are a part of our changing societal behavior, which seems more confrontational and less respectful of authority?

“Oh, I definitely see a change in the world today,” Houseman agreed. “We have our times when we have to go remove a passenger from an aircraft. Their tempers are short. They want to do things their way. So yes, there are definitely some differences there.”

And there’s one more thing to remember since pot recently became legal in Missouri.

“If you’re flying out of Springfield or any airport in the United States, taking marijuana on the plane, whether it’s carry-on or checked luggage, is not legal because it’s federally prohibited by law,” Houseman explained. “So don’t bring it to the airport. It doesn’t matter if you have a medical marijuana card or not. It’s federally illegal, and you won’t be allowed to take it.”

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