TSA confiscates record-breaking number of guns in 2016

TSA confiscates record-breaking number of guns in 2016
© The Transportation Security Administration

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said Thursday that it confiscated a record number of guns from airport security checkpoints in 2016.

In a blog post, the TSA said that screeners discovered 3,391 firearms in carry-on bags last year, 83 percent of which were loaded.

That total is a 28 percent increase from the previous year, when 2,653 guns were seized at airports around the country.


The top five airports for firearm discoveries were Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Dallas Fort Worth International, George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, Phoenix Sky Harbor International and Denver International.

The increase could be driven by the fact that TSA officers screened 43 million more passengers last year than in 2015, as travel volume increased thanks to lower fuel prices, an improved economy and cheaper fares.

Although firearms are prohibited in carry-on bags, the TSA emphasizes that passengers can bring them in checked bags as long as the items are properly packed and declared.

Travelers who bring firearms to a security checkpoint could face criminal charges and up to $11,000 in civil penalties from the agency.

In an effort to raise awareness about prohibited items, the TSA has used its popular social media accounts to display the banned and bizarre items screeners discover.

“There were many instances last year when travelers attempted to hide items, or the items they packed were disguised to look like other items,” the agency said in a blog post. “TSA officers regularly find sword canes, credit card knives, belt buckle knives, comb/brush knives, knives hidden in shoes, knives hidden in thermoses and knives hidden under the bag lining near the handle mechanism.”



The agency also encourages travelers to send questions to one of its “Ask TSA” accounts, which launched on Twitter and expanded to Facebook messenger last year.

Flight passengers can even send a picture directly to the account and a customer service representative will indicate whether it’s allowed on a plane.

“Some travelers pack the strangest items,” the TSA said. “Make sure you’re items are allowed by using the “Can I Bring My ...” tool to enter the item you want to pack.”