Guam man brought loaded gun to Des Moines International Airport

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A resident from Guam was caught with a loaded handgun in his carry-on bag Saturday at Des Moines International Airport, according to the Transportation Security Administration. 

The Des Moines Police Department confiscated the firearm and cited him on a weapons charge, reports the Des Moines Register, which is a part of the USA TODAY Network. The handgun was loaded with five bullets, including one in the chamber, according to the news release.

This was the fourth time this year a gun was found at Des Moines International, according to the release. Twelve guns were found in both 2018 and 2019, according to the release. 

Airport security is finding guns in passenger carry-on bags at three times the rate recorded before the pandemic, according to an Associated Press report this summer.

And 80% of the guns are loaded.

Officers found 15.3 guns for every million people screened in July, compared with 5.1 per million people in July of last year, the Transportation Security Administration said.

There has been a significant increase in loaded guns at checkpoints, said TSA Administrator David Pekoske. He said screeners are already working in conditions of heightened risks and that “no one should be introducing new ones.”

“Even more concerning is that 80% of the firearms coming into the checkpoint are loaded, and it’s just an accident waiting to happen,” Pekoske said.

It is legal to transport guns in checked bags if they are unloaded and in a locked case. There are federal civil penalties for improperly placing a gun in a carry-on bag, and violators can lose the use of faster-screening programs such as TSA PreCheck, but criminal charges are usually left to local authorities.

Last year, 4,432 guns were found in carry-on bags, or about 12.1 per day, and 87% were loaded.

Contributing: The Associated Press

Philip Joens covers breaking news for The Des Moines Register. He can be reached at 515-443-3347 at [email protected] or on Twitter @Philip_Joens. 

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