Airport Security Confiscated TSA Record Number of Guns in 2021: Report

by Courtney Blackann
Photographer: George Frey/Bloomberg via Getty Images

It’s not uncommon to forget that half full water bottle in your backpack while going through airport security. We’ve all been there. However, forgetting you’re transporting a gun – a loaded gun even – is another matter entirely. Recent data from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reports that nearly 6,000 guns were confiscated this year.

According to the Daily Mail, TSA collected 5,700 guns from passengers who didn’t realize they were in their carry on luggage. This means that about 16 guns were confiscated daily. This is a jump from the 4,400 collected the previous year.

Carrying a firearm through security is no joke. Passengers faced harsh fines of up to $13,910 and some were even arrested. The fine could also be higher for repeat offenders.

“It’s an all time high,” TSA Administrator David Pekoske told reporters Monday. “The reason? I think there’s just more firearm carriage in the country. That’s the best answer I can give you,” he said. 

The airports with the highest gun confiscation were from Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston.

“It’s a pretty costly mistake to make,” Pekoske said. He also mentioned that TSA will “always proceed with a civil penalty action that will cost thousands of dollars after we complete an investigation.”

He went on to say that, “We see a strengthening in the airline travel industry toward pre-pandemic levels and our goal is to ensure you as the passenger have a safe and secure flight.”

TSA in Atlanta Find Gun in Bag, Then it Accidentally Fires

It’s legal to transport an unloaded gun in your luggage, but it has to be through checked bags.

“We work hard with our airport and airline partners to achieve this by ensuring screening operations meet the upcoming demand. I also want to thank our Transportation Security Officers across the country who, each and every day, meet the travel volume demand and help keep airport screening lanes moving to ensure millions of passengers arrive at their destinations safely,” Pekoske says.

Just last month, an incident at the Atlanta International Airport caused a major investigation. A person was transporting a loaded gun through a security checkpoint when TSA noticed it. The agent attempted to retrieve it at the same time as the firearm owner and the gun went off. Luckily, there were no injuries, but the point remains.

Further, because of the incident, all of Atlanta air traffic came to a halt until the Atlanta Police Department could investigate. We imagine this gave travelers quite the headache.

So remember, if you’re traveling this holiday season, make sure you check your bags twice if you own a gun – it could save you thousands and criminal charges.