AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is outlining best practices for properly packing and traveling with firearms.
The airport recommends you first check and comply with local, state and international laws, as well as know the gun laws at your destination.
“It is the traveler’s responsibility to know the gun laws of the state to which they’re traveling, because Texas may have liberal gun laws, but the state to where you’re going may not,” said Transportation Security Administration Spokesperson Patricia Mancha.
Any firearms need to be unloaded and sealed in a Transportation Security Administration-approved hard-sided case.
Lastly, any weapon needs to be declared and checked at the airline ticket counter. They should not be placed in a carry-on bag.
Mancha said on Oct. 3 of this year, TSA broke a 20-year record for the most guns found at checkpoints at airports nationwide. As of Monday in Austin, 108 guns were found in passengers’ carry-on bags.
“Know where your gun is,” Mancha said. “The most often heard excuse that we hear from travelers is, ‘Oh, I forgot it was in my bag.'”
When a gun is found at the Austin airport, the Austin Police Department is called to investigate. The person who had the gun could face a fine or even arrest, and very often, Mancha said, they miss their flight.
TSA said over a 10-day period during the Thanksgiving holiday, it screened about 20 million people. That number is projected to be even higher for Christmas.
“For the Christmas travel period, we expect to screen about 31 million people.” Mancha said. “So it’s really important for people to understand that there’s a few things that they can do to make their trip a little easier.”
One of those tips is arrive early — two hours before a domestic flight and three hours before an international flight.
As many people will be traveling with gifts, gift bags are encouraged over wrapped gifts, because wrapped gifts will need to be torn open to be screened by TSA, according to Mancha.
Alcohol goes in checked luggage, Mancha said, and anything shaped like a grenade or bomb isn’t allowed in your checked or carry-on bag.
“We see these as perfume bottles, salt and pepper shakers, bottle openers,” she explained, while holding up a grenade-shaped item. “Just a reminder, even though this is hollow, when you put it in the x-ray, it still looks like a bomb.”