6,700 guns intercepted at US airports in 2023 | Inquirer
 
 
 
 
 
 

6,700 guns intercepted at US airport security checkpoints in 2023

The Transportation Security Administration screened more than 858 million passengers last year
/ 07:35 PM January 10, 2024

LOS ANGELES – Airport security officers intercepted more than 6,700 guns last year, preventing passengers from carrying them onto airplanes, the Transportation Security Administration disclosed today.

The TSA said 93 percent of the 6,737 guns found at airport security checkpoints were loaded.

This number represents the highest one-year total in TSA’s history. The previous record was set in 2022, with 6,542 firearms intercepted at checkpoints.

“We are still seeing far too many firearms at TSA checkpoints, and what’s particularly concerning is the amount of them loaded, presenting an unnecessary risk to everyone at the TSA checkpoint,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske.

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Gun and ammunition

This loaded handgun was detected inside a traveler’s backpack by a TSA officer. Photo from TSA

Pekoske reminded travelers that firearms and ammunition are strictly prohibited in carry-on baggage.

“Passengers are only allowed to travel with an unloaded firearm, and only if they pack it properly in a locked, hard-sided case in their checked baggage and first declare it to the airline at the check-in counter,” he said.

In 2023, TSA screened more than 858 million individuals, which indicates the agency intercepted 7.8 firearms per million passengers, a drop from 8.6 per million passengers in 2022.

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In the fourth quarter of 2023, which ended Dec. 31, airport security officers stopped 1,665 firearms at checkpoints.

The total represents an average of 18 intercepted firearms per day.

When a firearm is detected at a security checkpoint, officers immediately contact local authorities, who remove the passenger and the firearm from the checkpoint area. Depending on local laws, the law enforcement officer may arrest or cite the passenger. TSA does not confiscate firearms.

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In addition, TSA fines passengers who bring a firearm to a TSA checkpoint with a civil penalty up to approximately $15,000, revokes TSA PreCheck eligibility for at least five years and may conduct enhanced screening to ensure there are no other threats present.

In Los Angeles, a total of 145 firearms – 87 percent of which were loaded – were intercepted by security checkpoint personnel at five LA-area airports last year, prompting a warning from law enforcement officials for gun owners to familiarize themselves with the rules governing travel with weapons.

Authorities said the increase in weapon discoveries is due in part to the steady rise in air travel following the pandemic.

For more information on how to properly travel with a firearm, visit: The transporting firearms and ammunition page on TSA.gov. You may also view the complete list of penalties on TSA.gov.

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TAGS: air travel, airports, guns
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