(WASHINGTON) — The Transportation Security Administration in 2021 has confiscated the most guns ever in a single year — some 5,700, most of which were loaded.
The report comes at a time when the TSA also is reporting travel numbers nearing those of 2019, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The number of travelers peaked in November, ahead of Thanksgiving, reaching their highest level since the start of the pandemic, TSA data shows.
“The reason, I think, is just that there’s more firearms carriers in the country,” TSA Administrator David Pekoske said at a press conference on Monday. “Generally, what we see in our checkpoints, in terms of what people carry, that reflects what’s going on in the country.”
Currently, passengers are not permitted to carry firearms or ammunition in carry-on luggage through security checkpoints, but TSA regulations do allow passengers to transport unloaded firearms in checked baggage. Travelers must comply with state possession laws and are required to declare their firearms to airline personnel when checking in.
The TSA turns over all confiscated weapons to local law enforcement, passengers found to be flouting the rules can be fined or face civil penalties.
In one recent case of unauthorized firearm possession at a security checkpoint, a gun was accidentally discharged at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, terrifying travelers and leading to the arrest of the person responsible.
And the rate of detection has doubled, from five firearms per 1 million passengers in 2019 to 11 firearms per million passengers in 2021. The previous record for confiscated firearms in a single year was 4,432 in 2019.
ABC News’ Amanda Maile contributed to this report.
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