In the first six months of 2022, Transportation Security Administration officers prevented more than 3,000 firearms from entering planes, an average of 17 a day. That's more than half the total number of firearms seized in all of 2021.

In 2021, TSA officers intercepted 5,972 firearms at airport security checkpoints. And while air travel passenger numbers haven't reached pre-pandemic levels, the number of firearms caught in 2021 exceeded 2019 figures by 35%.

Of the guns seized in 2021, approximately 86% were loaded.

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Which airports caught the most firearms?

The number of guns found in security checkpoints varies by state and airport. The Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) had the largest number of guns caught in 2021 at 507. In 2020, ATL also ranked the highest in guns caught by TSA at 220, less than half the amount than the following year.

The top four airports with the highest number of guns caught by TSA did not change from 2020. In 2021, the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport entered the top 10, knocking Las Vegas McCarren International Airport out of the list.

People may travel with unloaded firearms under certain conditions provided they have a concealed weapon permit. However, travelers are not allowed access to firearms during a flight and must store their unloaded firearms in checked baggage following TSA guidelines. TSA officers can confiscate firearms if passengers try to bring them on in carry-on luggage, on their person, or if the firearm is loaded.

Top 10 airports with guns caught by TSA at checkpoints in 2021
Rank Airport (Code) Total
1 Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) 507
2 Dallas/Forth Worth International Airport (DFW) 317
3 Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) 245
4 Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) 196
5 Nashville International Airport (BNA) 163
6 Denver International Airport (DEN) 141
7 Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) 128
8 Orlando International Airport (MCO) 124
9 Louis Armstrong New Orleans International (MSY) 119
10 Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) 115

To learn more about air travel and other economic indicators visit the COVID-19 Impact and Recovery Hub.

TSA screened over 11 million travelers during Fourth of July weekend and continued to stop about 17 firearms per day during the first half of 2022
TSA detected an increase in guns at airport checkpoints in the Baltimore/Washington region in 2021