NEW YORK: Everyday, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers interact with nearly two million travelers across the U.S. with a single goal in mind, ensuring the safety of the traveling public. TSA had a busy year in 2016, screening more than 738 million passengers, 43 million more passengers than in 2015.
TSA officers continued their vigilance in protecting our nation’s transportation systems in 2016, including catching unusual items at the checkpoints.
In total, 3,391 firearms were discovered in carry-on bags at checkpoints across the country, averaging nine firearms per day, approximately a 28 percent increase in firearm discoveries from the total of 2,653 in 2015. Eighty-three percent of the guns caught in 2016 were loaded. However, in the New York metropolitan region, the number of firearms detected by TSA officers decreased.
Locally, the New York City/New Jersey region saw a drop in the number of firearms detected by TSA officers at checkpoints in 2016. In 2016, TSA officers detected 15 firearms at the three major New York metropolitan area airports compared to 24 in 2015.
The top five airports where TSA officers detected guns at checkpoints in 2016 were: Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International with 198; Dallas/Fort Worth International with 192; George Bush Intercontinental at Houston with 128; Phoenix Sky Harbor International with 101; and Denver International with 98. These same airports were in the top five for guns at checkpoints in 2014 and 2015.
Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality. TSA advises travelers to familiarize themselves with state and local firearm laws for each point of travel prior to departure to ensure that they have the proper gun permits for the states that they are traveling to and from. Airlines may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition so travelers should also contact the airline regarding firearm and ammunition carriage policies prior to arriving at the airport.
Weapons, including firearms, firearm parts and ammunition, are never permitted in carry-on bags, but they can be transported in checked bags if they are properly packed and declared to the airline.