TSA Sets New Record for Firearms Intercepted at Airports in 2023

by Tommy Grant

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In their 2023 year-end review, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reported stopping 6,737 firearms (93% of which were loaded) from entering secure airport areas. This figure surpasses the previous record of 6,542 firearms detected in 2022.

The TSA clarifies that it does not confiscate firearms; instead, it’s up to local laws to determine what becomes of the gun and passenger. The outcome for violators can vary, with potential criminal citations or arrests in addition to a civil penalty for taking a gun to the airport. Law enforcement considers several factors when determining the penalty amount, including whether the firearm was loaded and if ammunition was easily accessible. Passengers can face a maximum civil penalty of nearly $15,000 per incident.

“Responsible gun owners know where their guns are, and they know not to bring them to a checkpoint,” says Ohio TSA Federal Security Director Don Barker. “We urge passengers to start with an empty bag so you know with certainty that there is nothing prohibited inside. Bringing a firearm to the checkpoint is a careless, dangerous mistake that passengers can easily avoid.”

Firearms may only be transported on a commercial aircraft if they are unloaded, securely packed in a locked, hard-sided case, declared to the airline and placed in checked baggage. Firearm replicas are strictly prohibited in carry-on luggage and must be transported in checked baggage as well.

Passengers wishing to bring firearms, ammunition or firearm parts on their journey must declare them at the airline ticket counter during check-in. Ammo and firearm parts must also be checked. Travelers must familiarize themselves with gun laws and regulations at their destination to avoid any legal complications. Additionally, it is recommended to consult with the specific airline regarding any additional requirements they may have.

You can find more information about the TSA Year In Review on their website as well as information on traveling with firearms and ammunition and a summary of TSA’s civil penalties for prohibited items.

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