The TSA Finds More Than 10 Loaded Guns in Carry-On Bags Every Day

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport; Josh Hallett/Flickr

When it comes to the dos and don’ts of packing a carry-on bag, most travelers know the drill: Make sure your suitcase fits the size requirements, no liquids greater than 3.4 ounces, and leave the firearms at home. In 2018, however, a record number of folks violated the latter. The TSA reported 4,329 firearms were found in carry-on bags at 249 airports around the U.S. -- the largest number in the agency’s history. That’s a seven percent increase over 2017 -- an average of 81.6 per week and 11.6 per day, to put things in perspective. 

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport took first place with 298 guns confiscated, and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport followed suit, with 219 firearms. Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (129), Denver International Airport (126), Orlando International Airport (123), and Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport (117) also factored in the top 10.

Perhaps even more frightening is the fact that over 86 percent of those guns were loaded with ammunition. Although the TSA prohibits passengers from bringing a firearm in their carry-on bag, travelers can pack them in a checked bag -- as long as they’re unloaded, packed with proper precautions, and declared upon check-in. The agency recommends familiarizing yourself with the state and local firearms laws (as well as contacting the airline regarding their policies) ahead of a departure.

TSA officers also discovered other banned objects in carry-on bags, like inert grenades, a bottle of lighter fluid, fireworks, and knife combs, USA Today reports

It’s worth noting that the number of travelers in 2018 was significantly higher than the prior year. However, when asked what he attributes this rise in guns in carry-on bags to, TSA administrator David Pekoske told CBS News, “I’m just going to guess here; I think more people are just simply carrying weapons in the country and we reflect what we’re seeing around the country.”

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