TSA Seized Record Number of Firearms in 2018

TSA Seized Record Number of Firearms in 2018

X-ray of a suitcase at the airport

Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screeners discovered a record number of firearms inside carry-on bags at checkpoints across the country last year.

According to data released Thursday, a total of 4,239 firearms were seized in 2018 for an average of nearly 12 per day. The mark signals a 7 percent increase from the 3,957 discovered in 2017, though it should be pointed out that North American airlines saw full-year traffic rise by five percent last year compared to 2017, according to new data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

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Even more disconcerting, of the nearly 4,240 guns seized last year, 86 percent were loaded while nearly 34 percent had a bullet in the chamber.

The top five airports where TSA officers detected guns at checkpoints in 2018 were Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International (298), Dallas/Fort Worth International (219), Phoenix Sky Harbor International (129), Denver International (126) and Orlando International (123).

Those five airports alone combined for more than one-fifth of the total firearm seizures last year. In all, guns were found at 249 of the 440 U.S. airports where TSA conducts passenger screening.

TSA frequently reminds travelers that passengers bringing a firearm through an airport checkpoint will be subject to criminal charges from law enforcement and civil penalties from TSA. Federal civil penalties could amount to up to $13,000.

A typical first offense for carrying a handgun into a checkpoint is $3,900, TSA says.

Travelers may, however, travel legally with their firearms in their checked bags if they possess the proper permits and follow a few simple guidelines. The firearms must also be unloaded, packed in a hard-side case, locked and packed separately from ammunition, which must be in its original box.

Somehow, firearms weren’t the craziest things TSA screeners seized in 2018 as security officials uncovered knives, inert mortars, fake grenades and even an actual brass knuckle “Batarang.”


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