Record number of guns at airport security

David ShepardsonReuters
More than 5700 firearms have been confiscated at airport security checkpoints in the US in 2021.
Camera IconMore than 5700 firearms have been confiscated at airport security checkpoints in the US in 2021. Credit: EPA

Security personnel confiscated more than 5700 firearms at airport security checkpoints in 2021, the highest ever in a single year, The US Transportation Security Administration says.

TSA Administrator David Pekoske told reporters at a briefing the prior yearly record was about 4400 firearms in 2019, and the current rate of gun detections in carry-on luggage at checkpoints per million passengers is twice the previous high.

He said the increase reflects an increase in firearms being carried by Americans.

Airline passengers in the US can transport an unloaded firearm on an aircraft, but only in checked baggage.

"It's a pretty costly mistake to make," Pekoske said, saying TSA will "always proceed with a civil penalty action that will cost thousands of dollars after we complete an investigation".

TSA also refers the issue to law enforcement if it is a violation of local or state legislation.

In November, an accidental shooting at a security checkpoint at Atlanta International Airport prompted chaos.

A TSA officer saw a gun during screening and the passenger lunged into the bag and grabbed it, at which point it discharged, the agency said.

The incident briefly prompted a halt to air traffic while Atlanta Police investigated.

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