Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents were left bemused after a passenger attempted to smuggle a handgun through security via a raw chicken at Fort Lauderdale Airport.

The confusing concealment attempt has provided an excellent example (and some excellent wordplay) for passengers unsure about current firearm travel requirements.

Back in September, TSA agents at Fort Lauderdale’s Terminal 4 baggage scanning facility spotted something un-egg-spected in one passenger’s checked luggage. Upon opening it up, they discovered a firearm wrapped in plastic, stuffed inside a frozen chicken.

The plot chickens as we barrel our way closer to Thanksgiving. For us, it’s a time to be thankful that our officers are always working around the cluck to keep you safe,” the agency joked on Instagram.

“This idea wasn’t even half-baked; it was raw, greasy, and obviously unsupervised.”

TSA does not consider September incident to be poultry; the passenger is reported to have been an international traveler, resulting in the involvement of the US Customs and Border Protection.

While no details identifying the passenger or their aforementioned penalties have been released, their offense can carry a fine of up to $2,780, plus a criminal referral and arrest by law enforcement partners.

Growing trend

Earlier this month, TSA reported record levels of firearm seizures at airports across Florida, with Fort Lauderdale ranking second behind Orlando International Airport. Through 2022, TSA has apprehended 700 firearms at checkpoints in Florida, accounting for around 14% of all firearms found across all US airports. TSA notes that almost every gun has been loaded.

Unloaded firearms are permitted in checked baggage in the United States, provided it complies with local legislation. Guns are required to be unloaded and locked inside a hard-sided container, with ammunition packed separately. Passengers are required to declare every firearm in their checked baggage when presented for transport at the airport. Further details and a full list of requirements are available on TSA’s website.

Passenger Passing Through a TSA Checkpoint

Photo: TSA

Failure to comply can land passengers hefty fines or, in some cases, jail time. TSA civil penalties can scale up to $13,910 for a firearm-based offense, regardless of whether the passenger is arrested. TSA PreCheck members may also face a permanent loss of privileges.

According to Forbes, TSA has imposed over $52 million in penalties for gun-related offenses across the past three years, with $20 million in 2022 alone, putting it on track to be a record-breaking year for firearm detection. Five thousand guns have been apprehended since January, compared to 2021’s record of 5,972.

“As we enter the busiest holiday travel period, remember if you are going to travel with your gun it must be in your checked bag, but be sure you know what the gun laws are on each side of your trip or you may be heading to jail instead of to your family gathering,” advised TSA spokesperson Sari Koshetz.

“Guns may not be legal to transport even in checked baggage in some jurisdictions.”

What are your thoughts on TSA’s chicken escapade? Did Fort Lauderdale Airport handle the incident well? Let us know in the comments.

Sources: The Washington Post, Forbe


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