This year, a record number of guns were discovered at U.S. airports.
According to the Transportation Security Administration, passengers are carrying a record number of weapons to U.S. airports this year (TSA).
With three months left in 2021, TSA agents have already stopped 4,495 travelers from taking guns onto planes, exceeding the administration’s previous record of 4,432 firearms caught by TSA agents in the entire year of 2019.
In comparison, officials seized less than 1,000 weapons in 2009.
The recent figures, according to TSA Administrator David Pekoske, are “alarming.”
“Weapons, particularly loaded firearms, pose a needless risk at checkpoints, have no place in an airplane’s passenger cabin, and are a very costly mistake for passengers who seek to board a flight with them,” Pekoske said in a statement.
In 248 airports across the United States, guns were discovered among the belongings of travellers.
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (391), Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (232), and George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Texas are the leading airports for firearm finds (168).
More than 100 weapons were seized at Nashville International Airport, Denver International Airport, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, and Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport.
Firearm ownership varies by state, however the TSA requires that unloaded firearms be transported as checked baggage only in a closed, hard-sided container. At check-in, any firearms or ammunition must be declared.
Passengers caught carrying prohibited firearms, loaded or unloaded, might face civil penalties of up to $13,910 in addition to a criminal referral if possession is illegal under state or municipal law.
So far this year, 11 weapons have been detected in a carry-on luggage for every million travelers inspected in the United States. Officials discovered 5 weapons per million passengers in 2019.
Toys, replicas, and BB guns were not included in the TSA’s data, as were poorly packed weaponry at checked luggage stations.
TSA officials discovered fewer guns in airports in 2020 as plane travel fell owing to the coronavirus epidemic. Officers discovered over 4,000 weapons in 2018 and 2019, however that number dropped to 3,257 in 2020.
According to a report released in February by the Department of Transportation, commercial air traffic plummeted 40% in 2020 compared to the previous year. Last year, airlines flew 4,721,342 passengers, the fewest in a single year since the government began keeping track in 1987.
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