The TSA Found a Record-Breaking Number of Guns in Airports in 2022

The agency confiscated more than 6,300 guns from carry-on baggage in 2022, and nearly all of those guns were loaded.

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Lines of passengers going through security at the airport
Photo: Robert Alexander / Contributor (Getty Images)

If you want to fly with a gun, the Transportation Security Administration will let you do it. In addition to notifying the airline ahead of time, you simply have to pack your gun unloaded, locked in a hard-sided case, in checked baggage. What you’re not allowed to do is carry a gun through security. You’d think this would be obvious, but apparently not. Because the TSA reportedly found more guns in carry-on baggage this year than ever before. And the majority of those firearms were loaded.

According to Forbes, the TSA has seized 6,301 guns at airport security checkpoints so far this year, and expects that number to hit 6,600 by the end of 2022. That would be a significant increase over the 5,972 guns the agency seized last year, which was also a record year. It’s also reportedly “more than a 400-percent jump compared to a decade ago.” Yikes.

Even worse, the agency says 88 percent of the guns it confiscated were loaded, up from about 85 percent last year. So we’ve got more passengers trying to bring guns on planes, and more of them are loaded. That seems bad.

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And while guns themselves are already expensive enough, the fine for being caught with an unloaded gun at an airport is $1,500, rising to $3,000 if your firearm is loaded. The TSA also increased the maximum fine for people caught multiple times from $14,000 to $14,950. Because of course, there are people out there trying to bring guns through security multiple times. This is America.

As for why the number of people caught with guns in airports keeps increasing, it appears to be related to more states allowing permitless concealed carry and an increase in travel. “We’ve got a significant rise in the population of new, never-before gun owners. And then we have a significant rise in new air travelers,” explained a TSA representative.

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If you have a gun, please don’t try to bring it on the plane with you. Pretty please? All you’re going to do is slow down the already glacial security line when they catch you, ruin your day, and potentially ruin other passengers’ travel plans. Surely, that’s not too much to ask.