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Fifth gun in month found at Salt Lake City airport

Published January 22, 2013 3:16 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Salt Lake City International Airport is continuing a streak that it would rather not have — it discovered another handgun at a security checkpoint Tuesday, the fifth so far this month.

Lorie Dankers, spokeswoman for the Transportation Security Administration, said an Orlando-bound passenger was carrying a loaded Ruger .38 caliber handgun "in his coat pocket, which was detected by TSA officers during routine screening at the checkpoint."

She said Salt Lake City police arrested him on a state charge of carrying a dangerous weapon in a secured area.

That comes after the TSA found four loaded guns in a one-week span earlier this month at the airport — and had also found a set of Samurai swords and a 105 mm artillery shell casing with the primer intact.

One of the gun owners arrested earlier was Patrick Byrne, the CEO of Overstock.com. An Overstock.com spokesman said Byrne, who holds a permit to carry a concealed weapon, was in a rush to get to the airport, and mistakenly believed the weapon was at home instead of in a bag that he had not used in a while.

Last year, 20 guns were found at the airport — so the TSA has found a quarter of that total in just the first 16 days of 2013.

In 2011, TSA found 26 firearms at the airport. Between 2002 and 2010, it averaged finding only nine guns a year there —and never more than 19 in a year, according to data recently obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. However, TSA did not track gun data in a three-year period during that stretch.

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.

Lists of items banned on flights are available online at TSA.gov, and through the "myTSA" mobile app.