TSA firearm catch rate at U.S. airports doubles in record-setting 2020

Transportation Security Administration officers detected firearms at a significantly higher rate than any other year since the agency’s inception in 2001. The agency said that it detected twice as many firearms per million passengers screened at airport security checkpoints nationwide in 2020 compared to 2019. Specifically, TSA officers caught approximately 10 firearms per million passengers screened as compared to about 5 firearms per million passengers screened in 2019. TSA officers discovered a total of 3,257 firearms on passengers or in their carry-on bags at checkpoints, although total passengers screened in 2020 fell by 500 million versus 2019 due to the pandemic.

Of those firearms caught in 2020, about 83 percent were loaded. In 2019, TSA officers stopped a record 4,432 firearms, of which 87 percent were loaded. “I commend our officers for their commitment to TSA’s security mission by identifying and stopping these weapons at the TSA checkpoints. Firearms are strictly prohibited onboard planes in the passenger cabin,” said a senior official performing the duties of TSA Administrator. Bringing a firearm to a TSA security checkpoint poses a serious risk to TSA officers and passenger safety and doing so may result in significant fines or arrest.

Passengers with firearms at checkpoints were stopped at 234 airports nationwide including 43 at the Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport and 12 at Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids. Airline passengers can fly with firearms in checked baggage if the firearms are properly packed and declared at check-in. However, firearm possession laws vary by state and locality.

TSA advises travelers to familiarize themselves with state and local firearm laws for each point of travel prior to departure to ensure they transport guns in accordance with applicable laws. Airlines may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition, so travelers should also contact the airline regarding firearm and ammunition carriage policies prior to arriving at the airport.