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TSA sees spike in firearms brought in carry-ons at South Carolina airports

A new record shows that firearms were discovered by TSA officers in carry-on bags at a higher rate in 2021 than previous years.

CHARLESTON, S.C. — At the end of 2018, it was reported that 41 firearms had been found in carry-on luggage, across a total of six South Carolina airports. Fast forward to the end of 2021, and the number has been raised to 72 cases.

The TSA released new numbers Tuesday that show a spike in the number of people trying to bring some type of firearm through screening stations at airports. These findings were discovered in routine screenings by Transportation Security Administration officers. The national total is 5,972.

Charleston International Airport had the most discovered firearms in carry-ons at 30 cases, followed by Greenville-Spartanburg International with 17.

According to a TSA press release, about 5.56 million departing travelers were screened at the six commercial South Carolina airports in 2021, and a firearm was detected for every 77,135 passengers screened.

RELATED: These airports had the most guns found in 2021 so far

The largest amount of guns found in South Carolina airports was 63 in 2019.

Although flying passengers are able to take carry guns along to different locations, according to TSA, 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.

This is mandatory even if the passenger has a concealed weapons permit. 

RELATED: How to pack your firearm correctly when flying

The agency says those who fail to follow the guidelines could receive possible criminal citations along with civil penalties that can reach $13,900. Benefits like Trusted Traveler status and TSA PreCheck which are quicker check-in privileges' can also be revoked. 

The TSA also stated that when an airport firearm violation occurs, officers evaluate each firearm incident on a case-by-case basis. Factors the administration considers when determining the civil penalty amount includes whether the firearm was loaded and whether there was accessible ammunition.

Prior to traveling, TSA encourages passengers to check gun laws and regulations, as well as their airline prior to their flight to ensure they comply with any airline-specific requirements.