Passengers passed through airport checkpoints in record numbers in 2018, the Transportation Security Administration said Thursday, and they also tried so with a record number of firearms.
While 813,791,287 passengers and crew members passed through TSA screening last year, officers found an all-time high 4,239 firearms in carry-on bags, a 7 percent increase over 2017.
More than 86 percent of the firearms discovered by TSA officers were loaded and about 34 percent had a round in the chamber, the TSA said.
Firearms were intercepted at most of the 440 airports TSA staffs. Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, the busiest airport in the world, topped the list with screeners finding 298 firearms last year, followed by Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport with 219.
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Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport: 298 – an increase of 53 compared to 2017 (253 loaded) Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport: 219 (193 loaded) Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport: 129 (120 loaded) Denver International Airport: 126 (95 loaded) Orlando International Airport: 123 (112 loaded) George Bush Intercontinental Airport: 117 – a decrease of 25 firearms compared to 2017 (115 loaded) Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport: 96 (80 loaded) Austin-Bergstrom International Airport: 93 (76 loaded) Dallas Love Field Airport: 89 (83 loaded) Nashville International Airport: 86 (80 loaded)
TSA has previously said the majority of those carrying a gun through TSA appeared to have forgotten it was in their bag, so the agency regularly publishes the staggering numbers in an effort to remind gun-owners to leave their firearm at home when leaving for the airport.
Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality and TSA may impose civil penalties of up to $13,333 per violation, per person for prohibited items violations and violations of other TSA regulations, according to the agency.