TSA reports surge in loaded firearms at security checkpoints in 2023.

The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) captured 3,251 firearms at airport security checkpoints within the first half of 2023, averaging 18 firearms a day, with over 92% of them being loaded. This figure shows a rise compared to the first half of 2022, where TSA officers detected 3,053 firearms at security checkpoints, with around 86% of these loaded.

The figure climbed to 3,341 by July 5, after officers intercepted an additional 90 firearms within the first five days of July. Although the frequency of passengers carrying firearms to airport security checkpoints has seen a decline in 2023, the overall passenger count has risen. Hence, it is projected that the agency will exceed last year's record of 6,542 firearm interceptions.

Travelers wishing to fly with firearms must properly pack them in checked baggage and declare them at the airline ticket counter. Furthermore, airlines may impose additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition, hence passengers are urged to familiarize themselves with their airline's policies before arriving at the airport. Carrying firearms and ammunition through TSA security checkpoints is strictly prohibited.

TSA Administrator David Pekoske highlighted that passengers must adhere to regulations regarding firearm transportation, with firearms appropriately packed in checked baggage and declared to the airline. He praised TSA officers for their commitment to ensuring firearms do not infiltrate secure airport areas or board aircraft, stating that passengers who flout these rules pose a security risk and will face consequences.

Upon discovery of firearms at TSA security checkpoints, officers will notify local law enforcement to inspect the carry-on bag, safely disarm and confiscate the firearm, and take necessary action in line with local firearms laws. TSA may also impose a civil penalty of up to $14,950, revoke TSA PreCheck® eligibility for five years, require heightened screening, or have the passenger arrested or cited, based on local laws.

The detection of firearms in the first half of 2023 increased by 6% from the same period in 2022. However, with a 15% increase in passenger volume during the same period, the rate at which passengers carry firearms to airport checkpoints has decreased in 2023. As of June 30, 2023, TSA thwarted approximately eight firearms per million passengers, a reduction from 8.5 firearms per million passengers in the first half of 2022.

In the second quarter of 2023, TSA officers intercepted 1,744 firearms at airport checkpoints, over 92% of which were loaded. This compares to the 1,686 firearms stopped in the second quarter of 2022, with approximately 86% of those loaded.

Firearm laws vary across states and local governments. Nevertheless, firearms remain prohibited at TSA security checkpoints, in secure airport areas, and on board aircraft, irrespective of whether a passenger possesses a concealed carry permit.

TSA encourages passengers to pack an empty bag and consult TSA's "What Can I Bring?" tool to be aware of prohibited items, with oversized liquids under the liquids, gels, and aerosols rule being the most commonly prohibited items at TSA checkpoints.