TSA finds record number of firearms at airport checkpoints

The agency said most offenders forgot the gun was in their bag.

February 7, 2019, 12:51 PM

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.

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.
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

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.

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