Safety, Security

TSA Caught Over 3,300 Firearms at Airports So Far This Year

On pace for another recording-breaking year, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) intercepted 3,251 firearms at airport security checkpoints during the first half of 2023, which ended June 30.

Courtesy: TSA

The total represents an average 18 firearms per day at TSA checkpoints, and more than 92% of them were loaded. This is an increase from the first half of 2022, when Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) stopped 3,053 firearms at security checkpoints, of which more than 86% were loaded.

In the first five days of July, TSOs nationwide intercepted 90 additional firearms, bringing the total through July 5 to 3,341.

Although the rate at which passengers bring firearms to airport security checkpoints has actually declined in 2023, the number of passengers traveling has also increased, so the TSA said it expects to surpass last year’s record of 6,542 firearm interceptions.

Firearms and ammunition are prohibited at TSA security checkpoints, in the secure area of an airport, and onboard aircraft, even if a passenger has a concealed carry permit.

The agency emphasized that passengers who wish to travel with a firearm must ensure it is properly packed in checked baggage and declared at the airline ticket counter. Airlines may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms, so travelers must also contact their airline for carriage policies prior to arriving at the airport.

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TSA Administrator David Pekoske applauded the agency’s TSOs and warned, “Passengers who bring a firearm to the security checkpoint present a security risk, and there are consequences for doing so.”

When passengers bring firearms to checkpoints, TSOs contact local law enforcement to check the contents of the carry-on bag, safely unload and take possession of the firearm, and process the passenger in accordance with local laws on firearms. TSA will impose a civil penalty up to $14,950, will eliminate TSA PreCheck eligibility for five years, and may require enhanced screening. Some passengers will be arrested or cited, depending on local laws.

To avoid issues while traveling, the TSA recommends that passengers check the agency’s “What Can I Bring?” tool to know what is prohibited before packing. The most common prohibited items at TSA checkpoints are oversized liquids under the liquids, gels, and aerosols rule. A complete list of penalties is available here.

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