Record-Breaking Number Of Guns Found At Airports For Third Year Running

Passengers go through security check by TSA at Los Angeles International Airport on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2024 in Los Angeles, CA.

Image: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times (Getty Images)

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced that it found 6,737 firearms at airport security checkpoints in 2023, beating a record that was only set in 2022. While it’s not illegal to fly with a firearm, there are strict guidelines that gun owners must adhere to, and the TSA is begging people to follow them. It should also be noted that the TSA doesn’t confiscate firearms and the ultimate outcome depends on how local law enforcement decides to handle the situation.

Passengers who do get caught with a gun aren’t completely escaping punishment from federal authorities. They face a fine of up to $15,000, are deemed ineligible for TSA PreCheck for at least five years, and may be subject to enhanced screening indefinitely. With security officials finding 18 firearms per day during the fourth quarter of 2023, these consequences are dealt with on a frequent basis.

The threat of firearms making it past a checkpoint isn’t an idle one. The agency also revealed that 93 percent of the gun found were loaded. TSA Administrator David Pekoske said in a release:

“We are still seeing far too many firearms at TSA checkpoints, and what’s particularly concerning is the amount of them loaded, presenting an unnecessary risk to everyone at the TSA checkpoint.”

Not every gun brought to a security checkpoint is discovered by the TSA. Washington State Senator Jeff Wilson was able to board a flight to Hong Kong from Portland International Airport with a revolver in his carry-on luggage. He only realized that he had his gun during the flight while looking for chewing gum. While Wilson was just careless, someone with malicious intent could have endangered everyone onboard.

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