The Transportation Security Administration confiscated a record number of guns at checkpoints in 2022, many of them loaded, as the agency increased the maximum penalty for gun violations. The TSA said it had seized 6,301 guns from airport security checkpoints this year through Friday. More than 88% of them are loaded. This surpassed the previous record of 5,972 firearms found in 2021.
Madison Cawthorne was caught bringing a loaded gun through airport security. The TSA said it expects to intercept about 6,600 firearms in carry-on bags by the end of 2022, a nearly 10% increase from 2021’s record high. The agency announced that the maximum fine for firearms violations has been increased to $14,950 to “reduce the threat of firearms at checkpoints.” Previously, the maximum fine was $13,910.
“I applaud the work of transportation security officers who are doing an excellent job keeping firearms out of airports and onboard aircraft,” TSA Administrator David Pekoske said in a statement. “When a passenger brings a firearm to a checkpoint, it consumes significant security resources. Not only is it expensive for passengers, but it poses a potential threat to transportation security.”
Firearms or ammunition are not permitted in carry-on bags at any TSA security checkpoint, even if the passenger has a concealed weapon permit. The man was cited after TSA agents found 23 weapons packed in a carry-on bag. TSA regulations allow travelers to transport unloaded firearms in checked baggage.
Passengers must comply with state possession laws. and must declare their firearms to airline staff during check-in, among other requirements. Firearms found in carry-on bags are turned over to local law enforcement. Passengers who bring firearms to a checkpoint face fines. Repeated violations result in higher fines. Violating travelers may be arrested by law enforcement, depending on state or local law.
The firearms record comes as the TSA sees a rebound in passenger numbers, albeit not surpassing pre-Covid-19 pandemic levels.