TSA reports 3 times more guns found at checkpoints compared to 2019 despite drop in passenger volume

Posted at 11:56 AM, Aug 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-10 11:57:36-04

WASHINGTON—Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reports three times more firearms detected in carry-on bags in July, compared to last year, despite drastic drop in passenger volume.

TSA officers report that 15.3 guns per million people were found last month compared to 5.1 guns per million people screened during July 2019. The rate is considered alarming, given that TSA screened about 75% fewer passengers in July 2020, over the previous year’s volume.

“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,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske. “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.”

The recommended federal civil penalty for an unloaded firearm starts at $2,050 and $4,100 for a loaded gun. The penalty can go up to a maximum of more than $10,250 per violation, depending on the circumstances.

For a full list of penalties click here.

In addition to penalties, those who violate rules will have their trusted traveler status and TSA PreCheck™ expedited screening benefits revoked for a period of time.

“Even more concerning is that 80 percent of the firearms coming into the checkpoint are loaded and it’s just an accident waiting to happen. Travelers need to know that if they bring a gun to the security checkpoint, regardless of whether it is in a handbag, knapsack, roller-bag or strapped to their belt, it will be an inconvenient and expensive mistake on their part,” Pekoske said.

Last year, 4,432 firearms were found in carry-on bags at checkpoints across the country, averaging about 12.1 firearms per day, approximately a 5% increase nationally in firearm discoveries from the total of 4,239 detected in 2018. Eighty-seven percent of firearms detected at checkpoints last year were loaded, TSA officials report.

Passengers are permitted to travel with firearms in checked baggage, if they are properly packaged and declared at check-in with the airline.

Firearms must be unloaded, packed in a hard-sided case, locked, and packed separately from ammunition.