US /

TSA Stops Record Number of Guns at Airport Checkpoints

More than 6.3K firearms have been seized already, and the year's not even done
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 19, 2022 11:39 AM CST
TSA Stops Record Number of Guns at Airport Checkpoints
A sign advises airline travelers not to bring their firearms through a TSA checkpoint on July 28 at Brownsville-South Padre Island International Airport in Brownsville, Texas.   (Denise Cathey/The Brownsville Herald via AP, File)

Firearms aren't permitted in plane cabins during flights, even if passengers have a concealed-weapons permit. That didn't stop a whole lot of people from packing guns in their carry-ons this year—either forgetting they were there, not realizing they weren't allowed to pack them (or not realizing someone else had packed them in their bag), or intentionally trying to smuggle them through airport security checkpoints. How many people, exactly? According to the Transportation Security Administration, a record number: The TSA says it intercepted 6,301 firearms from Jan. 1 through Friday, exceeding last year's record of 5,972.

And the year hasn't quite wrapped up yet. TSA officials predict that by the time 2022 comes to a close, they'll have stopped about 6,600 firearms in carry-on bags, a 10% or so rise over 2021. Of this year's haul, the agency says more than 88% of the firearms were loaded. For context, the Hill looks back more than a decade, starting with 2010, when a comparatively meager 1,123 firearms were seized. The outlet notes that that number continued to rise over the years, with only 2020—the first year of the pandemic—seeing a drop. If someone wants to travel with their firearm, they can do so, but they must pack it unloaded in checked luggage, in a hard-sided case, and declare it to the airline they're flying with when they check in, per the New York Times.

For those who breach this rule, the TSA isn't fooling around: The agency says it has raised the maximum civil penalty for bringing a firearm to a security checkpoint to $14,950—a nearly $1,000 increase. Violators who have TSA PreCheck will also have that privilege revoked for no less than five years, and an arrest by law enforcement could be on the table, depending on the individual circumstances. "When a passenger brings a firearm to the checkpoint, this consumes significant security resources and poses a potential threat to transportation security, in addition to being very costly for the passenger," TSA Administrator David Pekoske says, per the release. (More TSA stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.