Authorities have stopped more than 6,000 firearms from going through airport security checkpoints in 2022, the most in the history of the Transportation Security Administration, officials said.
Of the 6,301 guns discovered by officers at checkpoints, more than 88% were loaded.
“TSA anticipates it will prevent about 6,600 firearms in carry-on bags from entering the secure area of airports by the end of 2022, a nearly 10% increase over 2021’s record level,” officials said Friday.
In 2021, officers discovered 5,972 guns at checkpoints nationwide, marking what was then an all-time high since the TSA was created 21 years ago and began tracking firearm discoveries. “Firearm possession laws vary by state and local government, but firearms are never allowed in carry-on bags at any TSA security checkpoint, even if a passenger has a concealed weapon permit,” officials said.
The TSA said it has increased the maximum civil penalty for such violations to $14,950.
Those caught with a gun at a checkpoint will also have PreCheck eligibility revoked for at least five years. “Depending on state or local law in the airport’s location, passengers who bring firearms to a checkpoint may be arrested by law enforcement,” the TSA said.
At Los Angeles International Airport, officers have intercepted slightly fewer firearms so far this year than they did last year. As of last week, there were 75 guns discovered at the airport’s security checkpoints, compared with 89 last year overall, according to data provided by the TSA. Officers at LAX found 43 guns in 2020, 44 in 2019, 57 in 2018 and 56 in 2017, according to the TSA.
“LAX is home to the largest and most sophisticated airport police force in the country, with substantial capabilities to detect and deter threats of all types,” said Martin Elam, deputy executive director for public safety and security at Los Angeles World Airports.
Airport police work “hand-in-hand” with the TSA to respond to reports of firearms that aren’t properly secured and declared for travel, Elam said. Passengers are responsible for understanding the rules of travelling with a firearm and the consequences of not following those rules, he said.
“Firearms are prohibited in carry-on bags at the checkpoint and onboard aircraft,” TSA Administrator David Pekoske said in a statement. “When a passenger brings a firearm to the checkpoint, this consumes significant security resources and poses a potential threat to transportation security, in addition to being very costly for the passenger.” Travellers who want to fly with firearms must leave them in checked luggage, follow specific guidelines for packing guns and ammunition, and declare them to their airline at check-in.