Safety, Security

As Airport Travel Soars, TSA Catches Nearly 3,300 Guns in First Half of 2024

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which has screened higher passenger volumes this summer and a record-breaking 3 million passengers on Sunday, July 7, intercepted 3,269 firearms at airport security checkpoints during the first half of 2024. The first half of the year ended June 30, and the total represents an average 19 firearms detected per day at TSA checkpoints—more than 94% were loaded.

Courtesy: TSA

While the number of firearms discovered during this period last year is nearly the same at 3,251, the total number of passengers increased. The TSA has screened nearly 7% more passengers during the first half of 2024 than during the same period in 2023. During the second quarter of 2024, Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) screened more than 236 million passengers, compared to more than 221 million passengers in the second quarter of 2023.

In the first eight days of July, which represents the third quarter of 2024, TSOs nationwide intercepted 166 additional firearms, bringing the total through July 8 to 3,435 firearms. The rate of passengers with firearms during the most recent quarter was 7.5 firearms per 1 million passengers, which is a slight decrease from the same period in 2023, when the rate of discovery was 7.9 firearms per 1 million passengers.

“During a period of record-breaking travel volumes, our officers are working hard to keep our transportation systems secure and the traveling public safe, and any time they detect a firearm, there is a real safety concern for frontline employees and travelers,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske.

The TSA encourages airline passengers to #PreparePackDeclare their firearms and learn the proper procedures before arriving at the airport. Passengers may travel with a firearm, but it must be:

  • Secured in the passenger’s checked baggage;
  • Packed unloaded;
  • Locked in a hard-sided case; and
  • Declared to the airline when checking the bag at the airline ticket counter.

Firearms are prohibited at security checkpoints, in the secure area of an airport, and in the passenger cabin of an aircraft, even if a passenger has a concealed carry permit or is in a constitutional carry jurisdiction. When traveling internationally, airline passengers must be aware of the foreign destination’s laws, which may prohibit travel with firearms and carry significant criminal penalties.

As a reminder, the TSA does not confiscate or seize firearms. If a passenger brings a firearm to the security checkpoint on their person or in their carry-on luggage, the officer will contact local law enforcement to safely unload and take possession of the firearm. Law enforcement may also arrest or cite the passenger, depending on local law. The TSA may impose a civil penalty up to almost $15,000, and for the first offense, passengers who bring a firearm to a security checkpoint will lose TSA PreCheck eligibility for five years.

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