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Record Number of Guns Confiscated at US Airports

US airport o'hare
Record Number Of Guns Confiscated at US Airports. credit: Corey Seeman / Flickr CC BY-NC-SA2.0

The year 2022 has broken the record number of guns confiscated at US airports, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said in an announcement on Friday.

As of December 16th, TSA had stopped 6,301 firearms brought by passengers to airport security checkpoints, a significant rise from last year’s record of 5,972. The vast majority of the confiscated firearms, namely eighty-eight percent, were loaded.

TSA anticipates it will prevent about 6,600 firearms in carry-on bags from entering the secure area of airports by the end of 2022, which is a nearly ten percent increase over 2021’s record level.

Traveling with guns at US airports

It is legal to travel with a firearm in the USA provided that the gun has been declared to the airline before the flight and is inside checked luggage, unloaded, and packed correctly.

“Firearm possession laws vary by state and local government, but firearms are never allowed in carry-on bags at any TSA security checkpoint, even if a passenger has a concealed weapon permit,” the TSA announcement states.

Nonetheless, a chart shared by TSA shows a steady increase in firearm catches at US airports since 2010, with a single drop in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A chart showing TSA firearm catches since 2010.
TSA firearm catches at US airports since 2010. Credit: TSA website

According to CNBC, the top five airports for TSA gun catches through November 21st were Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (ATL), Dallas/Fort-Worth International Airport (DFW), Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), Nashville International Airport (BNA) and Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport (PHX).

Increased penalties for violations

In view of the latest record and in order to reduce the threat of firearms at checkpoints, TSA decided to increase the maximum civil penalty for a firearms violation to $14,950.

The authority will also continue to revoke TSA PreCheck eligibility for at least five years for passengers caught with a firearm in their possession, and it may conduct enhanced screening for those passengers to ensure no other threats are present.

“Depending on state or local law in the airport’s location, passengers who bring firearms to a checkpoint may be arrested by law enforcement,” the TSA announcement adds.

Last June, the US Supreme Court ruled that Americans have the right to carry firearms in public, striking down New York’s century-old law which restricted the carrying of concealed firearms.

It was feared that the ruling could lead to more weapons on the streets, as well as subways, churches, bars, and airports.

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