TSA firearm catch rate doubles in 2020, despite fewer travelers

U.S. & World

TSA officers wear protective masks at a security screening area at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport Monday, May 18, 2020, in SeaTac, Wash. Airlines say they are stepping up security on flights to Washington before next week’s inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden. Delta, United and Alaska airlines said Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021 they will bar passengers flying to Washington from putting guns in checked bags. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

WASHINGTON (WRIC) — There were twice as many firearms caught at airport security checkpoints throughout the U.S. in 2020 compared to 2019, according to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

According to a Tuesday release, TSA officers detected approximately 10 firearms per million passengers screened in 2020, as compared to about five firearms per million passengers screened in 2019.

TSA saw increases in the number of firearms caught at airport security checkpoints at the statewide level, as well. In Virginia, TSA reports 22 guns were confiscated in 2020, compared to 14 guns confiscated in 2018 and 2019, respectively.

(Photo: TSA)

“I commend our officers for their commitment to TSA’s security mission by identifying and stopping these weapons at the TSA checkpoints,” Senior Official Performing the Duties of TSA Administrator Darby LaJoye said. “Firearms are strictly prohibited onboard planes in the passenger cabin. Brining a firearm to a TSA security checkpoint poses a serious risk to TSA officer and passenger safety, and doing so may result in significant fines or arrest.”

Airline passengers can fly with guns in checked baggage if the firearms are properly packed and declared at check-in. However, firearm possession laws very by state and locality.

In Virginia, several passengers were issued summonses in 2020 for trying to bring a gun through security.

The following airports had the most firearm catches by TSA last year:

RankAirportTotal
1Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)220
2Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)176
3Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH)126
4Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX)124
5Denver International Airport (DEN)104
6Nashville International Airport (BNA)94
7Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL)87
8Orlando International Airport (MCO)79
9Las Vegas McCarran International Airport (LAS)72
10Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC)71
Data: TSA

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