TSA firearms finds hit 20-year high

Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers detected a record number of firearms at airport security checkpoints this year, despite lower passenger numbers.

By October 3 of this year, 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 have discovered 11 firearms in carry-on bags at airport checkpoints per million passengers screened so far in 2021. They found five firearms per million passengers in 2019.

TSA firearms finds 2021
Transportation Security Administration

“The number of firearms that our TSA officers are stopping at airport checkpoints is alarming,” said TSA administrator David Pekoske. “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.”

When passengers bring firearms to airport checkpoints, TSA will assess a civil penalty that varies by number of previous offences and whether the firearm was loaded at the time.