GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Know what's in your bag before you fly or your plane trip may instead become a trip to jail. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said to deal with the increase in people packing guns and other prohibited items in their carry-on luggage, TSA has launched a public awareness campaign. On Tuesday, officials took that message to the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport.
TSA officials said so far this year they've confiscated six guns from passengers at the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport. They said last year that number was three. Officials said passengers toting unauthorized guns is a problem that airports are seeing across the country.
TSA workers set up a table with things they've confiscated from passengers going through security at the Gulfport Biloxi International airport. TSA set up a display to raise awareness about what people cannot have in their carry on luggage. Some passengers said they had no idea some of these items are against the rules. Passenger Chuck Hardy didn't know he wasn't allowed to take monkey fists into the plane's cabin.
"These are called monkey fists. In the center there will be a nut or some little piece of metal," said Hardy. "I know a lot of mariners will carry those little balls on their key chain. As a matter of fact, I have one on one of my set of keys at home."
TSA officials said they've confiscate grenades, hatchets, and pepper spray. Lately they're seeing more guns although it's been 13 years since the September 11th terrorist attacks .
"We've seen an increase all over the country with guns," said David Wynn, TSA Federal Security Director for Mississippi. "You would think after 13 years and the publicity that we've been expounding on prohibitive items that we would check our bags before we leave home to be sure that we don't have any prohibitive items in it. "
Lt. Carl Gangemi of the Gulfport Police Department confirms the spike in unauthorized items including guns.
"Once you present yourself or your bag to a TSA agent for checking if you have a concealed weapon in there you're going to get arrested. Most of the time it's either forgotten that they're there or they didn't realize that they shouldn't have them," said Lt. Gangemi. "So the basic education of today is showing them how it has to be secured. That it can be checked."
Police said anyone planning on packing a gun into checked luggage must let the airline know and the guns have to packed in a certain way.
"Guns have to be unloaded. Magazines have to be separate from the gun. They can be in the same box but they can't be in the gun itself," Lt. Gangemi said. "The case has to be a hard shelled lockable case and it has to be fully locked."
TSA officials said while guns are a problem they're not the only concern.
"We confiscate a lot knives from everything from hatchets to throwing stars to brass knuckles," said Wynn. "Then we have in the carry on bags liquid, gels and aerosols that are over 3.4 ounces is prohibited. People have their lotions and high priced perfumes that are over 3.4 ounces and they can't carry them on the carry on."
Officials said other items like fingernail polish remover is not permitted because it's flammable.
TSA officials said although they do have a way for people to reclaim their confiscated property most of it ends up abandoned. Officials said since they can't just throw away weapons and hazardous materials, they must hire contractors to dispose of it all. Last year, there was more than 300 pounds of confiscated items at the Gulfport Biloxi International Airport alone.
For more information on which items are prohibited visit www.tsa.gov