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TSA Hit All-Time High in Airport Gun Seizures Last Year

The Transportation Security Administration intercepted 6,542 guns in airport checkpoints across the country last year, reports Associated Press. The number, roughly 18 guns per day, was an all-time high and is sparking concern at a time when more Americans are armed. “What we see in our checkpoints really reflects what we’re seeing in society, and in society there are more people carrying firearms nowadays,” TSA administrator David Pekoske said. With the exception of pandemic-disrupted 2020, the number of weapons intercepted at airport checkpoints has climbed every year since 2010. Experts don’t think this is an epidemic of would-be hijackers but they emphasize the danger even one gun can pose in the wrong hands on a plane or at a checkpoint. Guns have been found at all types of airports, but most often at bigger airports in areas with laws more friendly to carrying a gun, Pekoske said. The top 10 list for gun interceptions in 2022 includes Dallas, Austin and Houston in Texas; three airports in Florida; Nashville; Atlanta; Phoenix; and Denver.

Repercussions for leaving your gun in your bag while passing through security can vary depending on local and state laws. The person may be arrested and have the gun confiscated. But sometimes they’re allowed to give the gun to a companion not flying with them and continue on their way. Unloaded guns can also be placed in checked bags assuming they follow proper procedures. Federal fines are the TSA’s tool to punish those who bring a gun to a checkpoint. Last year TSA raised the maximum fine to $14,950 as a deterrent. Passengers also lose their PreCheck status, which allows them to bypass some types of screening, for five years. It used to be three years, but about a year ago the agency increased the time and changed the rules. If federal officials can prove the person intended to bring the gun past the checkpoint into what’s called the airport’s sterile area, it’s a federal offense. Nearly everyone caught claims to have forgotten they had a gun with them. Pekoske isn’t sure the “I forgot” excuse is always true or whether it’s a natural reaction to getting caught. Regardless, he said, it’s a problem that must stop. “It’s disruptive no matter what,” said retired TSA official Keith Jeffries. “It’s a dangerous, prohibited item and, let’s face it, you should know where your gun is at, for crying out loud.”


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