Homeland Security Committee Chairs Thompson, Watson Coleman Write TSA on its Plan to Address Rise in Guns at Airport Checkpoints After Member of Congress Again Caught by TSA
There is bipartisan agreement for strict enforcement of civil penalties against repeat and egregious violators
Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (MS-02), Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, and Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Transportation and Maritime Security, sent a letter to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) inquiring about its plan to address the dangerous and alarming rise of individuals bringing firearms to airport checkpoints after a Member of Congress, Rep. Madison Cawthorn (NC-11), was caught by TSA bringing a gun to a checkpoint this week for the second time. Troublingly, TSA encountered nearly 6,000 guns at checkpoints in 2021 – at a rate which has doubled since 2019. The vast majority of guns are found loaded.
“[E]ach encounter with a firearm disrupts TSA’s screening operations, draws resources from other security functions throughout the airport, and threatens the safety of passengers and workers,” the Chairs wrote.
The Chairs also urge TSA to do more and act decisively to ensure repeat offenders – who place their fellow travelers at risk on multiple occasions – face the full extent of TSA’s enforcement actions. Currently, there is bipartisan legislation pending in the House, the Securing Air Travel Act (H.R. 6856), which, in part, establishes minimum civil penalties for repeat and egregious violations.
“Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle agree that those who break the law and endanger the safety of other passengers—and especially repeat offenders such as Rep. Cawthorn—must be held to account,” the Chairs also wrote.