The TSA released some statistics today showing that its agents detected more guns at checkpoints per passengers this year compared to last year. How many more? The TSA says that there were 15.3 guns per million in July versus 5.1 million guns per million during the same month in 2019.
The TSA has found 3x more guns per million this year than last year
This year, the TSA detected 15.3 guns per million people in July. This was triple the 5.1 guns per million people in July of 2019. The most alarming part of this for the TSA was that passenger numbers were down 75% compared to what it was in July 2019.
TSA Administrator David Pekoske stated the following in a press release viewed by Simple Flying:
“TSA is diligently working to ensure our employees and passengers are safe and secure while traveling during a pandemic, and yet we are noticing a significant increase in loaded firearms coming into checkpoints.Travelers must understand that firearms are prohibited items at airports and in the passenger cabins of aircraft. As hard as we are working to mitigate other risks at this time, no one should be introducing new ones.”
In 2019, the TSA detected 4,432 firearms in carry-on bags across its security checkpoints in the United States. This averaged about 12.1 guns per day and was a 5.1% increase compared to the number of firearms detected in 2018.
What was even more concerning was that 80% of the firearms that the TSA detected at the checkpoints were loaded. David Pekoske stated that a loaded gun in a security checkpoint is “an accident waiting to happen.” 87% of firearms detected at checkpoints in 2019 were loaded.
Where were the guns found?
The TSA released a list of all airports where guns were found at checkpoints. The full list is available here. Below are the top airports where the most number of firearms were found in July 2020:
- Atlanta (ATL): 27 firearms
- Denver (DEN): 13
- Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW): 13
- Nashville (BNA): 12
- Dallas-Love (DAL): 9
- Houston-Intercontinental (IAH): 9
- Orlando (MCO): 8
- Phoenix-Sky Harbor (PHX): 8
- Fort Lauderdale (FLL): 7
- Las Vegas (LAS): 7
- St. Louis (STL): 7
Travelers who are found to be traveling with a firearm will face some unfortunate penalties. The TSA states that the recommended Federal civil penalty for an unloaded firearm starts at $2,050– likely more expensive than a lot of plane tickets. For a loaded gun, that penalty goes up to $4,100 minimum. Depending on the circumstances, the statutory maximum for bringing a firearm into a checkpoint is a whopping $10,250 per violation.
In addition to financial penalties, customers will also lose some of their privileges. Any passengers caught with a firearm in security will lose any trusted traveler status or TSA PreCheck status for a certain period of time. The duration of the loss of these privileges depends on the offense and a passenger’s history with security offenses.
Can you travel with a firearm?
Passengers can travel with a gun if the firearms are properly packed in their checked luggage and declared at the time of check-in. The firearms must be unloaded, packed in a hard-sided case, locked, and packed separately from any ammunition.
Ammunition and firearm parts, such as frames, receivers, clips, and magazines, must also be checked. Replica firearms, such as BB guns, are also prohibited in carry-on luggage but may be checked. Beyond the TSA, there may be other local and state regulations relating to firearms and travel. Do also note that your airline may have additional rules, so check with them before traveling.
What do you make of the TSA’s statistics on gun finds in July? Let us know in the comments!