Avoid a hefty fine, TSA urges travelers to check their luggage for weapons

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- If you're planning on traveling for the hunting season, or holiday season, you'll want to read this.

Officials with the TSA and the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office want to remind you to not take firearms with you on carry-on luggage.

While it may seem obvious, they said apparently it isn't.

Mark Lendvay, Wisconsin federal security director, said 20 times in 2021 already, people have tried to come through security with guns, an issue he said has continually gotten worse since 2019.

According to Lendvay, from 2019 to 2020, the number basically doubled to over 10 per million passengers being caught with a firearm.

He said you'll likely be seeing a fine of on average $4,100, but potentially it could go above $13,000 per incident, and even criminal charges, depending, regardless of CCW status.

Lendvay said the message here is simple: double check your bags before you fly.

Officials with the TSA and the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office said it'll save everyone a lot of trouble.

"You know the common response we get is 'I forgot it was in the bag,' I mean that's what we're hearing. So how do we change it from 'I forgot' to 'I know what I need to do, let me declare it to the airline, let me make certain it's unloaded, let me present it in a lockable container, let me present it in that fashion,' and then they're good to go," said Lendvay.

He said they have to stop the whole checkpoint line when a weapon is found, meaning people might be late to their flight, and just forgetting it was in there isn't a good enough excuse to get out of a fine.

Lendvay says that's also when Sheriff Earnell Lucas' office gets called.

Sheriff Lucas said slowing down and double checking your bag can help make sure everyone gets where they want to go on time.

"In today's world, we're all very busy, we're somewhat stressed by the advent of COVID," said Sheriff Lucas, "And so under the pressures, we-- in a hurry, trying to get to that airport, and we leave it in our bag. We're telling everybody now to slow it down a little bit."

Lendvay said he knows these people aren't trying to do anything wrong, most even have valid CCW cards, and this is just another part of responsible firearm ownership.

"These are not individuals with ill intent, these are individuals that have gone through the process," said Lendvay.

Lendvay said one of the potential reasons for the increase is that many people who typically don't fly began flying more over the past couple of years.

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