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By The Way
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TSA found a gun inside a raw chicken

Agents have seized a record 700 guns at Florida airports this year, including a most unusual case in Fort Lauderdale

(iStock/Washington Post Illustration)

Something was a-fowl on a late September morning at the checked baggage screening station at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

Transportation Security Administration agents in South Florida pulled a bag off the line and found a raw chicken inside — but that wasn’t the strangest discovery. There was a handgun inside the bird.

“We hate to beak it to you here, but stuffing a firearm in your holiday bird for travel is just a baste of time,” the agency wrote on Instagram Monday alongside photos of the offending poultry. “This idea wasn’t even half-baked; it was raw, greasy, and obviously unsupervised.”

“The only roast happening here is this poor packing choice!” the TSA added.

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The incident occurred around 6 a.m. Sept. 27 at the checked baggage scanning facility in Terminal 4 of the Fort Lauderdale airport, TSA spokesperson R. Carter Langston wrote in an email Tuesday.

It involved an international passenger, so officers with Customs and Border Protection responded, Langston added. A CBP spokesperson confirmed officers responded to the incident, but said he was unable to provide details on the passenger.

Unloaded firearms are permitted in checked baggage, but they must be in a locked, hard-sided case and declared at the ticket counter, according to the TSA. If you’re traveling to another state or internationally, be sure to research the laws for carrying firearms in your destination.

“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,” TSA spokesperson Sari Koshetz said in a news release. “Guns may not be legal to transport even in checked baggage in some jurisdictions.”

From the TSA: Here’s what you should know about guns and airports

The gun discovered in Fort Lauderdale may have been unusually concealed, but it comes amid an uptick in guns found at checkpoints in Florida airports and nationwide.

Passengers have brought a record 700 guns to airport security in Florida this year through Nov. 3, according to the TSA. Nearly all the guns were loaded and most had a bullet in the chamber, the agency said.

Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and Tampa regularly rank among the nation’s top airports in guns discovered, according to the TSA. Agents stopped a passenger with a loaded gun at a Fort Lauderdale checkpoint on Sunday, marking the 121st firearm discovered at the airport this year, Koshetz said in an email.

The agency seized 5,972 firearms nationwide in 2021, more than a third higher than the previous record set in 2019, despite fewer passengers traveling due to the coronavirus. The increase has sparked proposals in Congress to increase education around traveling with guns and raise the penalties for carrying them improperly.

Airline passenger traffic dropped in the pandemic. But TSA seized more guns than ever.

It is unclear if the chicken-toting traveler was arrested. Passengers caught with “undeclared and/or improperly packaged firearms” in their checked baggage can face a fine of up to $1,390 and lose their PreCheck status, according to the TSA’s website. Attempting to bring a loaded gun or other prohibited item in your carry-on bag can bring even steeper civil penalties of up to $13,910.

The TSA regularly shares some of its strangest and most dangerous seizures on social media. Recent discoveries include brass knuckles in Ithaca, a meat cleaver in Baltimore and military ordnance in Rochester.

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