Transportation Security Administration officers at South Carolina airports discovered a record number of 79 firearms in travelers’ carry-on luggage in 2022, a new annual record for the state.
In addition, Charleston International, Greenville-Spartanburg International and Columbia Metropolitan Airport all posted record firearm detections last year, according to a news release from the TSA. Each of the firearms were discovered by TSA officers during the routine screening of carry-on property at airport security checkpoints.
Officers found 32 firearms at the Charleston International Airport, 21 at Greenville International Airport and 15 at the Columbia Metropolitan Airport, the release said. They also found 10 firearms at Myrtle Beach International Airport and one at Florence Regional Airport.
Statewide in 2022, TSA screened approximately 6.54 million departing travelers at the six commercial South Carolina airports, a 17.6 percent increase over the total number screened in 2021, according to data released by the TSA.
Nationwide, a firearm was detected for every 116,394 passengers screened. In South Carolina, the rate was even higher, with one firearm discovered for every 82,819 passengers screened, according to the release.
In addition to potential criminal citations, travelers face civil penalties for bringing firearms to the security checkpoint and TSA evaluates each firearm incident on a case-by-case basis. Among the factors TSA considers when determining the civil penalty amount includes whether the firearm was loaded and whether there was accessible ammunition, according to the release.
The civil penalty can go up to a maximum of $15,000 per violation. Even if a traveler has a concealed weapons permit, firearms are not permitted in carry-on luggage.
According to TSA regulations, firearms can be transported on a commercial aircraft only if they are unloaded, packed in a locked, hard-sided case and placed in checked baggage. Any type of replica firearm is prohibited in carry-on baggage and must be transported in checked luggage.