Nearly 300 firearms have been found this year at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. That means it has set a record even before the year ends, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
"I know you can't imagine this, but the passenger will say, 'I forgot it was in the bag,'" said Mary Leftridge Byrd, the Transportation Security Administration's Atlanta federal security director.
U.S. Attorney Byung J. "BJay" Pak also reminded travelers to ensure that they haven't unknowingly brought a weapon to the airport.
"Check your bags, check your purses," he said. "Double and triple check before you come to the airport to make sure you do not have a firearm, if you intend to fly."
Last year, a record 245 guns were discovered at Atlanta's airport.
Atlanta's airport has held the No. 1 spot in the nation for guns uncovered at checkpoints for the past two years.
Authorities say 293 firearms have been found in carry-on bags and as improperly packed or undeclared guns in checked luggage so far this year in Atlanta. The Transportation Security Administration says that on average, 80 to 90 percent of the weapons are loaded.
People found in violation may face punishment, including federal citations, civil penalties, criminal charges and fines. Penalties for offenders include a fine of up to $13,333. Repeat offenders could be charged with a federal misdemeanor, punishable with up to a $100,000 fine and a year in jail, Pak said.
"If you are caught with a weapon in your bag, even a first-time offender will pay a fine. You will be issued a citation. You'll have to appear in court to resolve the citation. You'll lose your gun. You won't make your flight," said Jim Hurley, the Federal Bureau of Investigation's assistant special agent in charge in Atlanta.
Pak said he's looking at ideas for more ways to get the message out, such as reminders to travelers when they check in online with Delta Air Lines and more signs at airport parking notifying passengers that guns are not allowed at security checkpoints.
Information from: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, http://www.ajc.com
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