The Americans broke a new record last year, but there is nothing to write home about. The Transport Security Administration (TSA) found 4,239 firearms in carrier baggage in 2018, breaking the previous record set in 2017. It is an average of more than 11 weapons per day.
The number of weapons found by TSA in 2018 was up around 7 percent from 2017, when 3,957 were found at TSA checkpoints, as the agency notes in a press release. But the most disruptive statistics may be that 86 percent of the weapons discovered last year by TSA were loaded. Even more shocking, according to TSA, "almost 34 percent had a bullet in the chamber." Yikes.
The five largest airports where TSA officers discovered weapons at checkpoints in 2018 were: Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International with 298; Dallas / Fort Worth International with 219; Phoenix Sky Harbor International with 129; Denver International with 126 and Orlando International at 123.
The Americans are able to legally fly with firearms, but they must be loaded and locked in checked luggage. Even replica guns and toy guns are required by federal law to be in checked baggage.
Attempting to carry a gun on a plane is considered a civilian rather than a criminal case under federal regulations, and if you are caught, you face fines of up to $ 13,000. But TSA agents do not actually take the weapons they find. That's the job of the local police.
"I like to call it weapons warnings," said TJ's regional spokesman Mark J. Howell to Gizmodo over the phone. "When we find the firearms, we close that path until law enforcement comes over. They remove firearms from the machine and remove the person from the control point."
If local law enforcement simply states the person with the gun or arrests they are up to state law. But that way, the gun owner will be turned off with a federal bot.
"We collect the information from [the gun owner] and we issue civil penalties to them in the post afterwards," Howell says, adding that it takes about a month for these quotes to go out. "Any confiscation is a provision made by law enforcement."
"Some of you have to go to court to get back [the gun]others get them back there, but it's determined by local law enforcement."
TSA's latest edition also includes a breakdown in the last decade, which is quite depressing. Back in 2008, only 928 weapons were found by TSA agents nationwide. And the numbers have grown worse every year.
- 2012- 1,556
- ] 2010-1,123
Americans love weapons in a way that is incredibly unusual in the developed world. And as long as they are legal, remember when President Obama would take everyone's weapons away? – They will be something that air travelers will live with for a while to come.
The best thing you can hope for is that weapons don't make it through security, as they did recently in Atlanta. A woman came through TSA with a gun at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on January 3 this year and made it all the way to Japan's Narita International Airport in Tokyo with the gun, according to The Washington Post.
Initially, someone speculated that it might have to do with the government's suspension, but TSA withdrew that proposal, saying that "the national scrapping rate was higher a year ago than this year on that date." It's just really hard to catch every gun that goes through America's airports. It is at least 11 every day, and if the last decade is any guidance, the figure will only increase in 2019.