The US’s Transportation Security Administration (TSA) intercepted 3,251 firearms at airport security checkpoints during the six months to June 30.

The total represents an average of 18 firearms per day at TSA checkpoints – 92% of those found were loaded. This is an increase on the first half of 2022, when 86% of the 3,053 firearms found at security checkpoints were loaded.

In the first five days of July, transportation security officers (TSOs) throughout the United States intercepted 90 additional firearms, bringing the total to July 5 to 3,341. Although the rate at which passengers bring firearms to airport security checkpoints has actually declined in 2023, the number of passengers travelling has also increased, so the agency is expected to beat last year’s record of 6,542 firearm interceptions, it said.

The number of firearm catches during the first half of 2023 represents a 6% increase over the same period in 2022. However, over the same period, passenger volume at checkpoints increased 15%, showing the rate at which passengers brought firearms to airport checkpoints declined in 2023. As of June 30, 2023, TSA stopped about eight firearms per million passengers. During the first half of calendar year 2022, TSA prevented 8.5 firearms per million passengers.

Best practice for carrying firearms

“Anyone travelling with a firearm must follow the rules and pack it properly in checked baggage in addition to declaring it to the airline,” said TSA administrator David Pekoske. “Passengers who bring a firearm to the security checkpoint present a security risk, and there are consequences for doing so. I applaud the work of our TSOs for their dedication to our transportation security mission, ensuring these firearms do not get into the secure area of the airport and onboard aircraft.”

When passengers bring firearms to the TSA security checkpoint, TSOs contact local law enforcement to check the contents of the carry-on bag, safely unload and take possession of the firearm and process the passenger in accordance with local laws on firearms. The TSA will impose a civil penalty up to $14,950, eliminate TSA PreCheck eligibility for five years and may require enhanced screening. Some passengers will be arrested or cited, depending on local laws on firearms.

Image: Transportation Security Administration