Number of travelers with guns at N.O. airport checkpoints increases

Number of travelers with guns at N.O. airport checkpoints increases

KENNER, LA (WVUE) - Most travelers at TSA checkpoints are unaware of what made it on the security machine before them. But many banned items caught the attention of TSA agents at New Orleans' Louis Armstrong International Airport so far this year, and a lot of them were on display for the news media Friday, as TSA seeks to heighten public awareness during the holiday travel season.

"Which amounts to 19,000 pounds of items," said Sari Koshetz with the Transportation Security Administration, talking about the number of banned items agents stopped from making it on to aircraft in New Orleans, so far this year.

They include all sorts of dangerous weapons, yard tools, baseball bats and hazardous chemicals.

"Bats, oars, hockey sticks can all serve as bludgeons in the cabin of the aircraft. They could all have been checked," said Koshetz.

Real ammunition set on a table next to fake guns that looked real. All discovered by TSA agents.

We were not shown the real guns brought to checkpoints because they were turned over to local law enforcement.  Most were loaded, according to Koshetz.

She said more and more travelers are taking guns to security checkpoints at the New Orleans airport.

"Guns happen to be a slightly higher problem at this airport. Year-to-date, TSA officers have stopped 54 guns at the checkpoints here at Louis Armstrong, New Orleans International Airport. Last year we stopped 35, so you see the gun situation is escalating," Koshetz stated.

But being caught carries a price.

"If someone brings a firearm to a federal checkpoint they face not only arrest but also missing their flight and their entire trip but also civil penalties from the TSA of up to $11,000 and the civil penalties are applied whether or not you're arrested," said Koshetz.

Weapons can be checked by the airlines.

"But it must be in a hard-sided locked case, it must be unloaded and it must be declared to the airline when you get to the airport," she said.

There are rules for liquids, too.  Large bottles of booze must be checked.

Hazardous chemicals are not allowed.

"Nail polish remover is typically flammable, so it shouldn't be in your checked bag or your carry-on bag, and certainly chemicals like this or gun powder of any type should not be on the plane at all," she said.

Among the items the TSA has collected at the local airport were all sorts of knives, swords, and brass

"It's hard to believe that some people do not have knowledge of what's in their suitcase but people are not paying enough attention," said Koshetz.

Passengers even tried to get through security with heavy cattle bells and dumb bells and even brass knuckles.

Koshetz said the public can get updated information about allowed items on the TSA's website and other information by following the agency on Twitter and Facebook.

Copyright 2016 WVUE. All rights reserved.