Loaded firearm at Salt Lake airport leads to arrest, the 5th this month

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 25 2011 4:25 p.m. MDT

TSA demonstrator Terissa Williams demonstrates the new Automatic Target Recognition software used at the Salt Lake International Airport in Salt Lake City.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

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SALT LAKE CITY — A passenger attempted to carry a loaded handgun onto a flight at Salt Lake City International Airport on Tuesday, according to the Transportation Security Administration.

It was the fifth time this month TSA officers in Salt Lake City have found a loaded firearm at a security checkpoint during baggage screening.

On Tuesday morning, a .45-caliber handgun containing seven rounds of ammunition was discovered in a man's carry-on bag as he attempted to board a flight to Detroit, with his final destination being Tampa International Airport, the TSA said.

Airport police arrested the man. But a spokeswoman for the FBI said the incident did not meet the criteria to warrant federal charges.

TSA spokeswoman Lorie Dankers said the number of people trying to carrying loaded guns onto airplanes is up nationwide. Just last week, 22 loaded firearms were detected at airport security checkpoints across the country.

"Five (in Salt Lake) is a significant number, but it mirrors the national trend," she said.

Dankers said TSA is trying to make people aware of the proper way to take guns on flights, which includes declaring the firearm to TSA, keeping it in a case, unloading it and placing it in checked luggage.

"I don't know what more we can do. We're trying to get people's attention. Maybe it's not working," she said.

TSA officers nationwide have found more than 800 firearms in carry-on bags during the first 10 months of this year.

While not discounting the danger of a loaded weapon on a plane, Dankers said TSA would rather spend its time looking for explosives.

"It's not that you can't bring your gun. Just follow the rules when you bring your gun," she said.

Earlier this month, land mines were found in checked luggage at the Salt Lake airport , causing short flight delays. An explosive detection device sounded an alarm and a Navy explosive disposal squad determined the mines were inert.

E-mail: romboy@desnews.com, Twitter: dennisromboy

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