WASHINGTON — TSA officers confiscated a record number of guns at airport checkpoints in 2022, agency officials announced Tuesday.
The Transportation Security Administration said they discovered 6,542 firearms over the course of the year, 570 more than was found in 2021, which previously held the record.
The TSA already knew it would be a record-breaking year before 2022 even finished. By Dec. 16, the agency had already confiscated a record 6,301 firearms on passengers or in their carry-on luggage, breaking the 2021 record. In the last 15 days of the year, 241 more guns were found among the luggage of holiday travelers.
The agency reported that 88% of the guns they confiscated were loaded at the time.
All those guns can be a costly mistake for travelers. In December, TSA raised the fines for carrying a gun through airport security because of the increase through 2022.
Previously, an unloaded gun carried a fine between $1,500 and $2,475 and a criminal referral, while a loaded gun found at airport security could lead to a fine between $3,000 and $10,000.
For the 241 guns found in the last two weeks of the year, the maximum fine for a loaded gun could be as much as $14,950. Repeat offenders could rack up fines for even more, according to the agency's website.
Federal law prohibits passengers other than certain law enforcement officers from bringing guns or ammunition into the cabin of a plane, although the law allows passengers to put guns in checked bags that go into the cargo hold if they are unloaded and in a locked case.
Airlines don't have to permit guns even in checked bags. All leading U.S. carriers temporarily banned guns in checked bags on flights to Washington, D.C.-area airports for a week after the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
The three airports where the most firearms were discovered in 2022 were the same as 2021's top three. Fourth place went to Nashville International Airport, which beat out 2021's No. 4, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.
While Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport maintained its spot at the top of the TSA's list, which it has held since 2019, fewer guns were found there in 2022 compared to 2021.
And two airports were replaced on the list: New Orleans Louis Armstrong International Airport and Salt Lake City International Airport. Their spots were instead taken by Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and the Tampa International Airport.
Which airports seized the most guns in 2022?
- Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) - 448
- Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) - 385
- Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) - 298
- Nashville International Airport (BNA) - 213
- Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) - 196
- Orlando International Airport (MCO) - 162
- Denver International Airport (DEN) - 156
- Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) - 150
- Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) - 134
- Tampa International Airport (TPA) - 131