The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in the US reported a record number of guns caught at airport checkpoints in 2019 – more than ever before in the agency’s history.
A total of 4,432 firearms were discovered in carry-on bags or on passengers at checkpoints across the country, approximately a 5% increase nationally in firearm discoveries from the total of 4,239 detected in 2018.
The TSA reported that firearms were caught at 278 airport checkpoints nationwide. The top five airports where TSA officers detected guns at checkpoints in 2019 were: Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International with 323; Dallas/Fort Worth International with 217; Denver International with 140; George Bush Intercontinental with 138; and Phoenix Sky Harbor International with 132.
Eighty-seven percent of firearms detected at checkpoints last year were loaded.
“The continued increase in the number of firearms that travellers bring to airport checkpoints is deeply troubling,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske. “There is a proper way to travel safely with a firearm. First and foremost, it should be unloaded. Then it should be packed in a hard-sided locked case, taken to the airline check-in counter to be declared, and checked.”
Travellers who bring firearms to the checkpoint are subject to criminal charges from law enforcement and civil penalties from TSA and even if a traveller has a concealed weapon permit – firearms are not permitted to be carried onto an aircraft. Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality and TSA advises travellers to familiarise themselves with state and local firearm laws, while airlines may also have additional requirements.
Travellers with proper firearm permits can travel legally with their firearms in their checked bags if they follow the guidelines. For example, firearms must be unloaded and packed in a locked hard-sided case, ammunition must be in its original box and can be packed inside the hard-side case next to the firearm.
The case should be taken to the airline check-in counter. Firearms are transported with checked baggage and placed in the cargo hold of the aircraft.