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TSA finds thousands of guns at checkpoints last year, including 15 at PTI

Failing to leave the gun at home or secure it properly for travel could be a simple mistake, but it could cost you thousands.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Last year the TSA screened more than 700 million passengers. 

A nearly 30 percent increase over 2021. 

But passengers are not the only increase agents are experiencing. 

The number of firearms discovered at security checkpoints is also on the rise. 

6,542 guns were found at US checkpoints last year. 

15 were found at PTI, 74 at Raleigh Durham, and 117 at Charlotte Douglass. 

"These firearms become a distraction, especially at the frequency that we find them in, and they create delays in operations challenges at security checkpoints," said TSA Regional Spokesperson, Mark Howell. 

TSA agents are no strangers when it comes to fining prohibited things

Last year agents found a snake and even a cat in passenger luggage. 

But if a gun is found, the screening process comes to a halt as local law enforcement steps in. 

"99.9% of the time the excuse we get when we detect a firearm is oops I forgot it was in my bag or I forgot to take it out before I came to the airport," said Howell.

According to a TSA spokesperson, 88 percent of the guns they find, are loaded. 

What may seem like a small mistake could cost you. 

Your TSA Precheck benefits would be revoked. 

Along with local charges and civil fines from the TSA of up to $15,000. 

You can still travel with a firearm if you choose to, but, there is a process for that and it all starts at the airline ticket counter.

When checking in at the airport, your airline will make sure the weapon is unloaded and placed in a locked case -- Before securing it in your checked bag. 

"We don't have any issues with that as long as it is packaged safely and it is not accessible during the flight. For obvious reasons, we don't want to firearm, loaded or unloaded on board in the cabin of the aircraft," said Howell. 

The TSA hopes bringing more awareness and education will make a difference. 

And it all starts before you even get to the airport. 

"Take five minutes and just go through all of your personal belongings to make sure that you don't have any firearms or anything else dangerous for that matter in your bag before you come," said Howell. 

Click here for a full list of items that are not allowed through TSA checkpoints and how to secure items that are allowed. 

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