Homeland Security

Record-Setting Number of Guns Found in Airline Baggage in 2018

A TSA worker helps passengers at the Salt Lake City International Airport on Jan., 16, 2019, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

WASHINGTON — A record number of firearms were discovered in carry-on baggage at airports across the country last year, the Transportation Security Administration announced today in the agency’s annual recap.

The 4,239 firearms spotted at checkpoints were a 7 percent increase from the previous year. Over the past decade, that statistic has increased every year; in 2008, just 926 firearms were found in carry-ons.

The 2018 firearms discoveries amount to 81.6 guns per week trying to get through security, or 11.6 firearms per day.

Another record was set by how many of the discovered guns were loaded: 86.15 percent. A third of firearms had a round in the chamber.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport set the record — 32 — for the most carry-on firearms discovered in a month. Atlanta also had the most total discoveries for the year, followed by Dallas-Fort Worth, Phoenix, Denver and Orlando.

Overall, the TSA screened 5.5 percent more travelers in 2018 than in 2017, or about two million travelers per day including a record-breaking Thanksgiving.

Guns weren’t the only prohibited items discovered at checkpoints last year. The TSA found three smoke grenades in a checked bag at Nashville’s airport, an inert grenade in a carry-on bag in Las Vegas, lighter fluid in a carry-on bag in Seattle, fireworks in a carry-on bag in Orlando and five replica mortar shells that brought up an explosive response team at the same airport.

In addition to providing lists of what can and can’t be brought on airplanes, the TSA says it will respond to travelers’ questions if they snap a photo of the item and tweet it @TSA.

“At airports across the nation, TSA employees were overwhelmed by the generous support shown to them during the recent lapse in federal funding,” the TSA added. “We are grateful and thankful for the public support from industry, travelers, local businesses and communities, including those who provided hot meals, groceries, household goods and infant-care items to TSA employees.”