The US Transport Security Administration (TSA) continues to see an alarming number of weapons in airports. According to spokesperson Robert Langston, as of February 9th, officers have prevented 654 firearms at security checkpoints across the US, 92% of which were loaded. That is an average of 16 guns a day. Individuals can face penalties of almost $15,000 for having a gun in their carry-on.
In 2022, officers intercepted a record number of firearms brought by passengers to airport security checkpoints. As of December 16, TSA has stopped 6,301 firearms; more than 88% were loaded. This number surpasses the previous record of 5,972 firearms detected in 2021. TSA anticipates it will prevent about 6,600 firearms in carry-on bags from entering the secure area of airports by the end of 2022, a nearly 10% increase over 2021’s record level.
TSA is still seeing far too many firearms at airport checkpoints.Robert Langston, TSA’s spokesperson
“Firearms do not belong in the secure area of airports or in the passenger cabins of airplanes,” said Langston. “They represent an unnecessary risk at the TSA checkpoint and failing to properly check and declare a firearm can be an expensive mistake.”
Firearm possession laws vary by state and local government, but firearms are never allowed in carry-on bags at any TSA security checkpoint, even if a passenger has a concealed weapon permit. In order to reduce the threat of firearms at checkpoints, TSA has increased the maximum civil penalty for a firearms violation to $14,950.
TSA determines the penalty amount for a violation based on the circumstances in each case. TSA will continue to revoke TSA PreCheck ® eligibility for at least five years for passengers caught with a firearm in their possession. TSA may conduct enhanced screening for those passengers to ensure no other threats are present. Depending on state or local law in the airport’s location, passengers who bring firearms to a checkpoint may be arrested by law enforcement.
“I applaud the work of our Transportation Security Officers who do an excellent job of preventing firearms from getting into the secure area of airports, and onboard aircraft,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske. “Firearms are prohibited in carry-on bags at the checkpoint and onboard aircraft. When a passenger brings a firearm to the checkpoint, this consumes significant security resources and poses a potential threat to transportation security, in addition to being very costly for the passenger.”
According to the TSA, passengers traveling by air who wish to transport firearms must do so in checked baggage. Those passengers must follow proper packing guidance for firearms in checked baggage and declare them to their airline at check-in. Airlines may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition, so travelers must also contact their airline regarding firearm and ammunition carriage policies prior to arriving at the airport.
“Guns are not permitted in the cabin of a plane – neither loaded or unloaded ones. Now not only was this man arrested, but he also faces a stiff financial civil penalty from TSA that could set him back thousands of dollars,” TSA’s Federal Security Detector for the airport Robert Duffy said in a statement.