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Transportation Security Administration Detects 6,737 Firearms in 2023

The total exceeds the Transportation Security Administration record of 6,542 firearms, set in 2022

By Todd R. Berger

1.15.24 Transportation Security Administration Detects 6,737 Firearms in 2023
Double exposure of Transportation Security Administration checkpoint signage and people at TSA checkpoint || Photo by Thaspol, courtesy of Adobe

Last year, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) intercepted a total of 6,737 firearms at airport security checkpoints, preventing them from getting into the secure areas of the airport and onboard aircraft. Approximately 93% of these firearms were loaded. This total surpasses the previous year’s record of 6,542 firearms stopped at checkpoints and represents the highest one-year total in TSA’s history.

“We are still seeing far too many firearms at TSA checkpoints, and what’s particularly concerning is the amount of them loaded, presenting an unnecessary risk to everyone at the TSA checkpoint,” says Transportation Security Administration Administrator David Pekoske. “Firearms and ammunition are strictly prohibited in carry-on baggage. Passengers are only allowed to travel with an unloaded firearm, and only if they pack it properly in a locked, hard-sided case in their checked baggage and first declare it to the airline at the check-in counter.”

In 2023, the Transportation Security Administration screened more than 858 million individuals, which indicates the agency intercepted 7.8 firearms per million passengers, a drop from 8.6 per million passengers in 2022.

In the fourth quarter of 2023, which ended Dec. 31, Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) stopped 1,665 firearms at checkpoints. The total represents an average of 18 firearms per day, of which nearly 93% were loaded, at Transportation Security Administration checkpoints.

When a firearm is detected at a security checkpoint, TSOs immediately contact local law enforcement, who remove the passenger and the firearm from the checkpoint area. Depending on local laws, the law enforcement officer may arrest or cite the passenger. The TSA does not confiscate firearms.

In addition to any action taken by law enforcement, the Transportation Security Administration fines passengers who bring a firearm to a TSA checkpoint with a civil penalty up to approximately $15,000, revokes TSA PreCheck eligibility for at least five years, and may conduct enhanced screening to ensure there are no other threats present.