By Keith Laing - 01/21/16 11:42 AM EST
The Transportation Security Administration said Thursday that it intercepted 2,653 guns at airport security checkpoints in 2015.
The TSA said the figure is a 20 percent increase over the number of guns that were captured by its agents in 2014 and also the highest number of firearms that have been intercepted in one year in its history.
TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger said the record number of guns that were captured in 2015 is a testament to the diligence of TSA agents, who are often the subject of scorn.
"Through increased training in detection methods, our officers are becoming more adept at intercepting these prohibited items,” he continued. “I am proud of the men and women who serve in the TSA and grateful for their hard work in the past year.”
The TSA said 2,198, or 82.8 percent, of the guns it found in 2015 were loaded. The agency said the guns were confiscated at 236 airports, 12 more airports than the number that had incidents in 2014.
The TSA said it found the more than 2,600 guns while its agents were screening 708 million people in 2015, which the agency said was 40.7 million more passengers than the number that were screened in 2014.
The airport with the most gun incidents in 2015 was Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport in Texas, which had 153 guns captured, according to TSA officials.
The second busiest airport for gun incidents at TSA checkpoints was Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, which had 144 guns intercepted.
Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport, Denver International Airport and Phoenix's Sky Harbor International Airport rounded out the TSA's top five with 100, 90 and 73 gun incidents respectively.
TSA rules prohibit passengers from carrying guns in their carry-on luggage. Under the agency's rules, firearms must be packed into checked luggage and unloaded.
"Passengers who wish to travel with firearms should inform themselves about laws pertaining to the possession and transport of firearms in their departure state, destination state, and any state where they may have a connecting flight," the agency said.