TSA Says More Travelers Bringing Guns Than Ever Before

More individuals than ever before were found in 2023 with firearms, with most of them loaded, at airport security checkpoints in the United States. The highest number of guns ever discovered in a single year was 6,737, identified among 858 million passengers checked by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Most of the firearms were found in checked baggage by X-ray machines, and the majority of the passengers said to authorities that they had left the weapons in their bags by mistake.

Fewer firearms were discovered despite the fact that roughly 100 million more passengers used U.S. airports in 2017 compared to 2016. After recording 8.6 weapons per 1,000,000 passengers in 2022, the TSA discovered 7.8 guns per 1,000,000 passengers in 2023, a decrease from the previous year.

Nationally, 93% of the firearms discovered in passengers’ baggage were loaded, according to Jason Pantages, a security director for the Los Angeles division of the Transportation Security Administration. Last year, 81 firearms, 87% of which were loaded, were discovered in bags that passed through LAX security. There were more firearms discovered there than at any airport in the greater Los Angeles area.

According to Chief Cecil Rhambo of the Los Angeles Airport Police Department, whenever a firearm is discovered at a checkpoint, police promptly swarm, seize the weapon, and investigate its possible connection to any outstanding warrants or offenses. The presence of “obliterated serial numbers” on the firearm will also be examined. Warrants are also reviewed for the passenger who was discovered carrying the gun.

Travelers found with weapons at airport security checkpoints face not just the potential for a TSA civil fine but also the possibility of a criminal conviction. Convicted individuals in such circumstances may be sentenced to a year-long diversionary program, and the owner may reclaim the firearm owner after one year, provided that they do not have any disqualifying conditions, such as a restraining order, mental health difficulties, or incidences of domestic violence.