TSA Agents Have Found Record Number of Firearms this Year
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced it has discovered a record number of firearms at airport security checkpoints this year.
TSA officers establishing a 20-year record with three months remaining in the calendar year and even fewer passengers traveling due to the pandemic.
Just through October 3rd, TSA officers had stopped 4,495 airline passengers from carrying firearms onto their flights, surpassing the previous record of 4,432 firearms caught at checkpoints in the full calendar year 2019. TSA officers discovered 11 firearms in carry-on bags at airport checkpoints per million passengers screened so far in 2021. That’s more than double the 5 firearms per million passengers discovered in 2019.
“The number of firearms that our TSA officers are stopping at airport checkpoints is alarming,” TSA Administrator David Pekoske said in the press release. “Firearms, particularly loaded firearms, introduce an unnecessary risk at checkpoints, have no place in the passenger cabin of an airplane, and represent a very costly mistake for the passengers who attempt to board a flight with them.”
Traveling with Firearms
Traveling with a firearm is not illegal. Passengers may travel with firearms in checked baggage when they are unloaded and packed in a locked, hard-sided case. The passenger must also declare and present the case with the firearm at the airline check-in counter. Firearms are transported with checked baggage and are placed in the cargo hold of the aircraft. Firearms are never permitted in the passenger cabin of an airplane.
There are also other issues to keep in mind. Firearm possession laws vary by state and local government. So the TSA advises that travelers should be informed about state and local firearm laws for each point of travel prior to departure. Specific airlines may also have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition.
When passengers bring firearms to airport checkpoints, TSA might assess a civil penalty. That penalty varies by number of previous offenses and whether the firearm was loaded at the time. TSA PreCheck members caught with a firearm at a TSA checkpoint may lose their expedited screening privileges for three years or more. You can see the full list of penalties here.