It’s been a wild week at security checkpoints at Salt Lake City International Airport — with officers finding four loaded guns, one of them in the luggage of the Overstock.com CEO, plus an artillery shell and a set of Samurai swords in baggage.
"We’re on a roll," said Lorie Dankers, spokeswoman for the Transportation Security Administration.
Guns were found three days in a row at security checkpoints — on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday — and also on Jan. 9. All the guns were loaded, and Dankers said all the passengers with those guns were arrested by police on state charges.
One of those passengers was Patrick Byrne, CEO of Overstock.com, said Jonathan Johnson, president of the Salt Lake City-based company.
"He has told me he regrets and apologizes for the incident," Johnson said. Byrne is a longtime concealed carry permit holder and is very careful and skilled with guns, but he was in a rush to get to the airport Wednesday night and mistakenly believed the weapon was safely in his home, not in a bag he hadn’t used in a while, Johnson said.
The Glock 23 .40 caliber pistol was loaded, but no round was in the chamber, according to a jail probable cause statement. When asked, Byrne denied knowing the gun was in the bag. Airport police arrested him and booked him into Salt Lake County jail, after which Byrne posted bail and was once again traveling Thursday night, leaving him unavailable for comment.
Last year, 20 guns were found at the airport — so the TSA has found a fifth of that total in just the first 16 days of 2013.
Additionally this week, TSA found a 105 mm artillery shell casing with the primer intact in checked luggage. Also, a set of Samurai swords was found in some carry-on luggage. Dankers said the owner of the swords was allowed to keep them but had to check them.
Firearms, ammunition, firearm parts and realistic replicas are always banned in carry-on luggage. However, they may be transported in checked baggage if the traveler declares them to the airline during the check-in process. Firearms must be unloaded and stored in a locked, hard-sided container.
Dankers said the TSA reminds passengers to be aware of the contents of their carry-on luggage before coming to security checkpoints. Lists of banned items are available online at TSA.gov, and through the "myTSA" mobile app.
Reporter Michael McFall contributed to this story.
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