TSA Caught Over 1,500 Guns at Airports in First Quarter

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) intercepted 1,503 firearms at airport security checkpoints during the first quarter of 2024, which ended March 31. This total represents an average of 16.5 firearms per day, comparable to the same period in 2023. During both time periods, more than 93% of firearms were loaded.

Courtesy: TSA

The number of airline passengers screened at TSA security checkpoints increased from the same time period in 2023. In the first quarter of 2024, Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) screened more than 206 million passengers, compared to more than 191 million passengers in the first quarter of 2023, representing an increase of 7.8%. The rate of passengers with firearms during the most recent quarter was 7.3 firearms per 1 million passengers, which is a slight decrease from the same period in 2023.

The agency also just completed a busy spring break travel season, screening more than 48 million passengers between March 7 and March 25, which is 7% over 2023 spring break travel volumes, when TSOs screened 45 million passengers.

“While it is certainly promising that the rate of passengers bringing firearms to the checkpoint has decreased, one firearm at the checkpoint is too many,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske. “The demand for air travel is as strong as ever, and security is always our number-one priority.”

Pekoske added, “Every time we discover a firearm at the checkpoint, the security screening process is slowed down for all. Traveling with a firearm is allowed, and it must be packed properly as checked baggage and declared to the airline at the ticket counter. We always recommend passengers start with a clean bag when they pack to ensure no firearms, weapons, or other prohibited items are present.”

Gun Rules & Penalties

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
  • Declared to the airline when checking the bag at the 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.

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. Second offenses will result in permanent disqualification from the program and additional civil penalties.

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