Firearms intercepted at airport security checkpoints across the country in 2023 hit the highest one-year total in the history of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the agency said Wednesday.
TSA prevented 6,737 firearms from getting into the secure areas of the airport and on board aircraft over the course of the year, the agency said. About 93%, or 6,265, of the firearms stopped were loaded.
The total marked an increase from the 6,542 firearms stopped at checkpoints in 2022, which was a record total at the time.
“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,” said TSA administrator David Pekoske.
Pekoske cautioned travelers that firearms and ammunition are strictly prohibited in carry-on baggage. Firearms must be unloaded and packed properly in a locked, hard-sided case inside a checked bag and declared to the airline at the check-in counter.
Passengers who bring a firearm to a TSA checkpoint will face local law enforcement and a civil penalty of up to $15,000.
The latest interception happened Wednesday at Elmira Corning Regional Airport in Horseheads, New York, where TSA officers detected a loaded firearm in a backpack during an X-ray screening, the agency said.
The male traveler told police that he is a firearms instructor and forgot that he had his loaded gun with him, the agency said. Since the man had a valid New York State pistol permit, the agency said that police allowed him to return the gun to his home.