Guns confiscations at US airports break 20-year record


(NewsNation Now) — A record-breaking number of firearms were confiscated at airport security checkpoints nationwide in 2021, according to the Transportation Security Administration.

TSA officers prevented an alarming 5,972 guns from getting through airport security. That is one gun per every 97,917 airplane passengers.

The number recorded in 2021 was the highest number in the TSA’s 20-year history and surpassed the previous record of 4,432 guns confiscated in 2019.

According to the TSA, all of the 5,972 guns were discovered in carry-on bags and firearms were discovered at 268 of the nation’s airports.

Linda Farbstein, spokesperson with the TSA, said that most passengers say they forgot that they had their firearms — but it goes further than that.

“Last year 86% of those guns were loaded,” Farbstein said. “So people are telling us that they forgot they had a loaded gun with them. And it’s almost unbelievable.”

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is by far the site of the most confiscations, with over 500.

The top 10 airports where firearms were discovered are:

  • Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, 507
  • Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, 317
  • George Bush Intercontinental Airport, Houston, 245
  • Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, 196
  • Nashville International Airport, 163
  • Denver International Airport, 141
  • Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, 128
  • Orlando International Airport, 124
  • Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, 119
  • Salt Lake City International Airport, 115

In 2009, the TSA reported a total of only 976 guns.

The number of guns confiscated at checkpoints has slowly increased since 2009. The exception was in 2020, when the number of reported guns dropped from 4,432 in 2019 to 3,257.

The TSA and even passengers are saying that the responsibility should fall to gun owners.

At a time when mask mandates and canceled flights are already a cause of stress on flyers and airport personnel, these figures are concerning, according to the TSA.

“It really is a matter of if you own a firearm, you need to know where it is at all times,” Farbstein said. “You seem to know where your car keys are. You seem to know where your wallet is. Where’s that deadly weapon?”

According to the TSA, you may transport unloaded firearms in a locked hard-sided container as checked baggage only.

Passengers must declare the firearm and/or ammunition to the airline when checking a bag at the ticket counter.

The container must completely secure the firearm from being accessed. Locked cases that can be easily opened are not permitted.

Contact the TSA Contact Center with questions you have regarding TSA firearm regulations.

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