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TSA found record number of firearms at airport checkpoints in 2023. Most were loaded

A Transportation Security Administration worker screens luggage at New York's LaGuardia Airport on Sept. 26, 2017. The TSA says it found a record number of firearms at airport security checkpoints last year.
Spencer Platt
/
Getty Images
A Transportation Security Administration worker screens luggage at New York's LaGuardia Airport on Sept. 26, 2017. The TSA says it found a record number of firearms at airport security checkpoints last year.

The Transportation Security Administration says it found a record number of firearms at airport security checkpoints in 2023. A total of 6,737 were intercepted — or an average of 18 firearms per day — 93% of which which were loaded, the agency says.

The number surpassed 2022's record of 6,542 firearms found.

"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," TSA Administrator David Pekoske said in a statement Wednesday.

Passengers are allowed to travel with firearms in checked baggage as long as they are unloaded and transported in a locked hard-sided container. TSA says passengers must declare their firearm and ammunition to the airline when checking their bags at the ticket counter.

Not surprisingly, the nation's two busiest airports topped were also the ones where the most guns were found: Atlanta's Hartsfield–Jackson International, with 451, and Dallas Fort Worth International, with 378.

The No. 1 reason the TSA hears from passengers is that they simply forgot their firearms were in their carry-on bag. "It also reflects a wider trend towards increased gun ownership and state and local laws," TSA spokesperson Alexa Lopez said.

Upon finding a firearm at a security checkpoint, the TSA does not confiscate it, but instead immediately contacts local law enforcement to remove the passenger. The passenger may be arrested or cited, depending on local laws.

Such passengers are also subject to a fine of up to approximately $15,000, having their TSA PreCheck eligibility revoked for at least five years and enhanced screening.

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