The Transportation Safety Administration confiscated a record number last year.
You know how you’re not allowed to take water bottles in your carry-on? Deodorants are also thrown in the trash can and Swiss Army Knives are confiscated. Well, it seems some people still think it’s okay to bring their guns in their carry-ons. In 2022, the TSA intercepted 6,542 firearms at 262 airports across the country. That’s 18 per day, or one firearm per 116,394 passengers screened.
This is a record number. In 2018, TSA confiscated 4,239 guns. What’s also worrying is that around 88% of these guns are loaded. In 2021, a passenger’s loaded firearm accidentally went off at a security check and the passenger ran off from the airport exit with the gun. He was a convicted felon and an arrest warrant was issued against him.
The TSA screened 761 million people last year. At Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, 448 firearms were intercepted—the most anywhere in the U.S. Dallas Fort Worth International Airport followed closely behind with 385 firearms.
The TSA releases press releases for firearms detected at airports and the federal agency is alarmed at which loaded guns are being intercepted. Earlier this month, an assault rifle with 163 rounds of ammunition was detected at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport in Louisiana.
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Apart from being a major security threat, it’s also very disruptive for other passengers as it causes delays. So, it’s important to be aware of the dos and don’ts. The TSA is a regular on Instagram and keeps its website updated on what fliers can carry in hand luggage and what they can’t. For example, liquids need to be in a clear bag and no more than 3.4 ounces. And, it’s not just guns that are prohibited; knives, pepper spray, stun guns, and replicas of bullets, guns, and grenades aren’t allowed either.
How to Transport Firearms Safely
That’s not to say that you can’t travel with your guns and ammunition. You can, but there are rules. For one, they can’t be loaded. Your guns need to be encased in a hard case container and can only be checked-in. Ammunition also goes in the checked-in bag the same way. You also need to declare at the check-in counter that you’re traveling with a firearm and/or ammunition. Confirm your airline’s policy and international laws to be sure you’re not breaking laws on either side of the border.
When a firearm is detected in the scanner, TSA notifies airport law enforcement and an officer removes it from the scanner. Travelers can face criminal charges and a penalty of up to $15,000, and they may also lose their TSA Pre-Check status depending on the severity of the incident and local law.
“When a TSA officer discovers a prohibited item in carry-on luggage, they offer the traveler the opportunity to place that item in checked luggage, turn it over to a non-traveling family member or friend or return it to their vehicle if it is parked nearby. If the traveler opts not to do any of the above, they can abandon the item to TSA for disposal,” the authority highlights.