A record number of firearms have been intercepted by Transportation Security Administration officers at the nation’s airports in 2022, the agency announced.
With 2 weeks remaining in the year, TSA officials noted that 6,301 weapons had been detected in carry-on luggage at airport security checkpoints, 88 percent of which were loaded.
Officials expect the number to reach around 6,600 by the end of the year, far surpassing the previous record of 5,972 firearms intercepted in 2021. That number represents about a 10 percent increase.
“I applaud the work of our transportation security officers who do an excellent job of preventing firearms from getting into the secure area of airports, and onboard aircraft,” TSA Administrator David Pekoske said in a release.
As the numbers continue to grow, TSA is attempting to combat the trend by increasing the penalties for violating the law. The maximum fine will now be $14,950 for firearms violations. The actual fine amount varies per incident based on circumstances in each case, TSA officials said.
Anyone caught with firearms will have their pre-check eligibility revoked for at least 5 years, regardless of the circumstances.
Officials remind passengers that although possession laws vary by state and local laws, firearms are never allowed in carry-on bags at any TSA checkpoint, even if the passenger has a concealed carry permit.
“Firearms are prohibited in carry-on bags at the checkpoint and onboard aircraft,” Pekoske said. “When a passenger brings a firearm to the checkpoint, this consumes significant security resources and poses a potential threat to transportation security, in addition to being very costly for the passenger.”
In addition to the increased fines, passengers caught with a firearm in their carry-on bag may also be arrested, subject to state or local laws in the airport’s location.
TSA will generally conduct enhanced screening for those same passengers to guarantee there are no other threats to the safety of other passengers.
Travelers who want to bring a firearm with them when they fly must do so in checked baggage and declare the item during check-in. The requirements for both weapons and ammunition vary by airline, so passengers should check with their individual airlines on those requirements.