TSA finds record number of firearms at airport checkpoints

PHOTO: A Transportation Security Administration (TSA) worker screens luggage at LaGuardia Airport (LGA) on Sept. 26, 2017, in New York City.PlaySpencer Platt/Getty Images FILE
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Passengers passed through airport checkpoints in record numbers in 2018, the Transportation Security Administration said Thursday, and they also tried so with a record number of firearms.

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While 813,791,287 passengers and crew members passed through TSA screening last year, officers found an all-time high 4,239 firearms in carry-on bags, a 7 percent increase over 2017.

PHOTO: A Transportation Security Administration (TSA) worker screens luggage at LaGuardia Airport (LGA) on Sept. 26, 2017 in New York City. Spencer Platt/Getty Images FILE
A Transportation Security Administration (TSA) worker screens luggage at LaGuardia Airport (LGA) on Sept. 26, 2017 in New York City.

More than 86 percent of the firearms discovered by TSA officers were loaded and about 34 percent had a round in the chamber, the TSA said.

Firearms were intercepted at most of the 440 airports TSA staffs. Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, the busiest airport in the world, topped the list with screeners finding 298 firearms last year, followed by Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport with 219.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport: 298 – an increase of 53 compared to 2017 (253 loaded) Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport: 219 (193 loaded) Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport: 129 (120 loaded) Denver International Airport: 126 (95 loaded) Orlando International Airport: 123 (112 loaded) George Bush Intercontinental Airport: 117 – a decrease of 25 firearms compared to 2017 (115 loaded) Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport: 96 (80 loaded) Austin-Bergstrom International Airport: 93 (76 loaded) Dallas Love Field Airport: 89 (83 loaded) Nashville International Airport: 86 (80 loaded)

TSA has previously said the majority of those carrying a gun through TSA appeared to have forgotten it was in their bag, so the agency regularly publishes the staggering numbers in an effort to remind gun-owners to leave their firearm at home when leaving for the airport.

Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality and TSA may impose civil penalties of up to $13,333 per violation, per person for prohibited items violations and violations of other TSA regulations, according to the agency.