The TSA confirmed its plans to increase the maximum fine for firearm violations after intercepting as many as 6,301 – most of them loaded. The agency expects hundreds more to be intercepted before the year is over.
The number of guns found in carry-on bags went down in 2020 during the pandemic but shot back up in 2021 and 2022.
Weapons are never allowed in carry-on luggage, regardless of the state’s gun laws.
In a statement released last week, TSA officers said they have already stopped 6,301 guns from being taken on flights but expect another 300 before the year is over.
The 6,301 intercepted, of which 88 percent were loaded, has already beaten the all-time record, set just the previous year, of 5,972 detected firearms – a 10 percent increase.
TSA figures show the number has been increasing each year including from 2010 to 2019, when the number shot up from 1,123 to 4,432.
The shocking figures have caused the TSA to increase the already hefty fine of $13,910 (£11,400) to $14,950 (£12,270) in an attempt to reduce the number of guns in airport security.
In a statement on Friday, a TSA said: “Firearm possession laws vary by state and local government, but firearms are never allowed in carry-on bags at any TSA security checkpoint, even if a passenger has a concealed weapon permit.”
Passengers who wish to carry a gun on board are required to store their weapons in checked baggage and must follow proper packing regulations, the TSA said.
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For passengers caught with guns, the TSA said they would revoke their PreCheck eligibility for five years, which is a program that grants certain travelers expedited screening processes at airports.
The statement said: “TSA may conduct enhanced screening for those passengers to ensure no other threats are present.
“Depending on state or local law in the airport’s location, passengers who bring firearms to a checkpoint may be arrested by law enforcement.”
David Pekoske, the TSA administrator, said the agency’s officers do an “excellent” job “preventing firearms from getting into the secure areas of airports and onboard aircraft”.
In a statement, he said: “Firearms are prohibited in carry-on bags at the checkpoint and onboard aircraft. When a passenger brings a firearm to the checkpoint, this consumes significant security resources and poses a potential threat to transportation security, in addition to being very costly for the passenger.”
It comes as the gun death rate in 2021 hit its highest mark in nearly three decades, according to a study by Harvard University.
The surge in gun violence comes as firearm purchases rose to record levels in 2020 and 2021, with more than 43 million guns estimated to have been purchased during that period, according to a Washington Post study.