Over 1,500 guns intercepted in carry-on bags at US airports from January to March; most loaded: TSA

ByForrest Brown and Gregory Wallace, CNN
Thursday, April 11, 2024
Over 1,500 guns intercepted at US airports from January to March
Over 1,500 guns were intercepted in carry-on bags at TSA checkpoints in US airports from January to March. The vast majority were loaded.

CHICAGO -- The Transportation Security Administration reports that its officers intercepted 1,503 firearms in carry-on bags at security checkpoints in US airports during the first quarter of 2024.

That number runs very close with TSA interceptions in the first quarter of 2023, in which 1,508 firearms were intercepted, the agency said in a news release. Overall, 2023 set a record for the number of firearms uncovered by officers at security checkpoints, CNN reported.

To help those numbers sink in, the 2024 interceptions come out to an average of 16.5 detections per day from January to March. For the first quarter of 2023, the interceptions came out to an average of 16.8 detections per day.

Even though the number of firearms discovered was nearly steady, that average first quarter rate was lower in 2024 because some 15 million more passengers were screened than the comparable period last year. More people plus roughly same number of firearms equals a lower rate.

SEE ALSO: TSA finds a record number of guns at airport checkpoints, 93% of them loaded

But there's a shocking stat that has stayed the same - in both time periods, 93% of those intercepted firearms were loaded with ammo.

"While it is certainly promising that the rate of passengers bringing firearms to the checkpoint has decreased, one firearm at the checkpoint is too many," said TSA Administrator David Pekoske in the news release.

"The demand for air travel is as strong as ever and security is always our number one priority. Every time we discover a firearm at the checkpoint, the security screening process is slowed down for all."

The rules of firearms and flying

People are allowed to ferry their firearms on flights, but they are "prohibited at security checkpoints, in the secure area of an airport and in the passenger cabin of an aircraft, even if a passenger has a concealed carry permit or is in a constitutional carry jurisdiction," TSA said.

Instead, the firearm "must be packed properly as checked baggage and declared to the airline at the ticket counter," Pekoske said.

TSA said passenger should follow these steps to lawfully shepherd a firearm through an airport:

- Secure the firearm in checked baggage

- Unload the firearm and lock it in a hard-sided case

- Declare the firearm to the airline when checking the bag at the ticket counter

Ammunition is not allowed in carry-ons, but it is allowed in checked baggage. But it must be properly stored and cannot be loaded in a firearm. Get more details here.

TSA said that it "does not confiscate or seize firearms. If a passenger brings a firearm to the security checkpoint on their person or in their carry-on luggage, the officer will contact local law enforcement to safely unload and take possession of the firearm."

Stiff fines and arrest are possible if you're discovered with a firearm at a security checkpoint.

"We always recommend passengers start with a clean bag when they pack to ensure no firearms, weapons or other prohibited items are present," Pekoske said.

The-CNN-Wire & 2024 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.