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TSA found more than 1,500 firearms on airline passengers in first 3 months of 2024

By Nathan Solis, Los Angeles Times
Published: April 11, 2024, 3:08pm

LOS ANGELES — More than 1,500 firearms were found on travelers screened at airport security checkpoints across the country in the first three months of the year, according to federal officials.

Roughly 93% of the guns found by security officials were loaded, the Transportation Security Administration announced in a news release Thursday.

The TSA screened more than 206 million travelers in the first quarter of 2024, which stretches from January 1 to March 31. TSA officers found 1,503 firearms, which amounts to about 16.5 guns found each day across the nation’s airports, which is slightly down for the same time period last year when officers found 16.8 firearms per day or 7.9 firearms per one million passengers, according to the news release.

“While it is certainly promising that the rate of passengers bringing firearms to the checkpoint has decreased, one firearm at the checkpoint is too many,” TSA Administrator David Pekoske said in the news release. “The demand for air travel is as strong as ever and security is always our number one priority. Every time we discover a firearm at the checkpoint, the security screening process is slowed down for all.”

People can travel with firearms, but they need to properly pack and check their baggage, Pekoske said. The baggage with the firearms must also be declared to the airline at the ticket counter and should be packed unloaded in a hard-sided case.

“We always recommend passengers start with a clean bag when they pack to ensure no firearms, weapons or other prohibited items are present,” Pekoske said.

The TSA does not confiscate guns at its checkpoints, but instead contacts local law enforcement to safely unload and take possession of the firearm, according to the TSA. This could lead police to arrest or cite the passenger, and the TSA could impose a fine up to $15,000. Those passengers could also lose access for up to five years to the TSA’s expedited screening process.

There were about 15 million more travelers screened this year than last year, but the TSA did not provide a breakdown for individual airports.