Or, depending on local laws, TSA may just tell you to (properly) put the gun in checked luggage. Or leave it behind.
But we’re headed for trouble. Last week TSA reported that in the first 6 months of 2022, TSA officers have already found more than 3,000 guns at checkpoints around the country.
That’s an average of 17 guns per day. And at this pace, TSA will surpass the previous record of 5,972 guns found at airport checkpoints in one year. That record was set in 2021, a year when far fewer people were traveling.
A hat tip to “Three Shots McGee” for sharing a story about what happens in Australia when someone is found with a loaded gun in their carry-on. As he says, having a passenger show up at an airport checkpoint with a loaded gun is an “Aussie airport event that almost never happens.”
But the passenger, an American, had an American excuse:
“The man claimed he had forgotten the weapon was in his luggage but this situation could have had deadly consequences for other travelers, even if it had discharged accidentally during the flight,” said Det. A/Supt. Sykes.
Meanwhile, in the United States, TSA officers found 5,972 firearms at airport security checkpoints in 2021. That is a significant increase from the 3,257 firearms found in carry-ons in 2020 when travel was down due to the pandemic. But it’s a serious spike over the 4,432 firearms found at airport checkpoints in 2019, pre-pandemic.
One of the most common excuses people give TSA officers is “Oops, I forgot that was in there.”
In the U.S., some people face fines and criminal charges when found with guns in their carry-ons. But in many cities and in many states, due to local laws all TSA can do is tell people to put the gun back in their car, put it in their checked bag, or give it to someone (ideally, someone they know…) to take home.
While there are still fewer passengers flying on commercial planes due to the pandemic, there is an uptick in the number of firearms people are bringing with them to U.S. airports.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced this week that so far this year its officers have found a record number of firearms at airport security checkpoints.
As of October 3rd, with three months yets to go in 2021, TSA officers had stopped 4,495 passengers with firearms. That already surpasses the previous year-long record of 4,432 firearms caught throughout all of 2019.
In 2019, TSA found 5 firearms per million passengers. So far this year, TSA discovered 11 firearms in carry-on bags at airport checkpoints per million passengers.
Here are Top 10 airports for firearms discoveries so far this year. Note that the most firearms have been found at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), and that three Texas airports (DFW, IAH, and DAL) are on this list.
If you’re flying to any airport near Washington, D.C. in the days leading up to the inauguration, you’ll have to leave your firearms at home.
Based on the events over the past few weeks in the nation’s capital, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier, Southwest, Spirit, and United Airlines are imposing a temporary ban on checking firearms.
Additional security measures are being put in place as well.
In most cases, credentialed law enforcement personnel and active-duty military members traveling on orders are exempt from the policies.
“To ensure the safety of our customers and employees, customers flying into the Washington, D.C. area (DCA, BWI, IAD and RIC) from January 16 – 23 will not be permitted to transport firearms in their checked bags. As a reminder, firearms are never permitted in carry-ons,“
*Increased mask enforcement on the ground and in the air.
* A limit on the number of tickets to be sold to and from the Washington, D.C. area;
*And and a requirement that all passengers traveling to and from the DC metro area stay seated one hour after take-off and one hour before landing .
“We will have a dedicated command center to monitor every phase of the journey – check-in, boarding, taxi, climb, cruise, descent, and arrival – to ensure compliance and allow us to quickly respond to and resolve any incidents,” the airline said in its statement.
Other airlines are doing much the same. Some are banning the sales of alcohol on flights as well.
The safety of our customers and team members is our top priority. As an additional precautionary measure in advance of the Presidential Inauguration, firearms may not be transported in checked bags on flights into Washington, D.C.-area airports (DCA, IAD and BWI) from January 16 – 23, 2021. Credentialed law enforcement officials and active duty military members traveling on Department of Defense orders will be exempt.
Firearms are never allowed to be brought onboard our planes as a carry-on item.