This past Friday, officers of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) explained that the agency was able to stop a record number of guns at various airport security checkpoints this past year, marking an almost 10% spike from the levels recorded in 2021.
Officials stated in a report that the agency was able to intervene and stop 6,301 firearms from crossing through the locked-down areas of the various airports since the start of 2022 and expects to detain another roughly 300 more prior to the year ending. In regard to the confiscated firearms, close to 88% of them were fully loaded, explained the agency.
The total number of intercepted firearms blew past the previous record set in 2021 of 5,972 guns.
“I applaud the work of our Transportation Security Officers who do an excellent job of preventing firearms from getting into the secure area of airports, and onboard aircraft,” expressed David Pekoske, the Administrator of the TSA, as part of a news release. “Firearms are prohibited in carry-on bags at the checkpoint and onboard aircraft.”
Despite firearm possession laws differing on a state-by-state basis, all passengers on U.S.-based airlines are banned from taking guns on board planes in standard carry-on bags at all TSA security checkpoints, even if a passenger possesses a legal concealed weapons permit. Despite this, the TSA states that passengers may travel with a firearm, but it must be entirely unloaded and locked inside of a hard-sided container and transported as a piece of checked baggage while also being declared each and every time they present it for transport as part of said checked baggage.
The agency stated that the TSA has elected to increase the maximum civil penalty tied to a gun violation to $14,950 to try and get ahead of and cull the total threat of firearms being taken through checkpoints.
“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,” explained Pekoske.
As explained by the agency, cases of the TSA catching firearms have been on the rise since 2010, climbing from just 1,123. Despite this, the total number of catches dropped in 2020 by close to 1,000 due to the COVID pandemic, as the industry took a massive slam in the wake of non-essential air travel nearly coming to a complete stop.
As a professor of computer science at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and an expert on aviation security, Sheldon H. Jacobson explained to the New York Times that “the majority of people are not doing it with malicious intent.”
“They’re simply forgetting,” explained the expert, stating that gun sales going up across the country among first-time gun owners could be a possible explanation for the spike in overall interceptions.