TSA found record number of guns in carry-ons. Will new fine help?

Sheldon H. Jacobson

The Transportation Security Administration found 6,542 guns at airport security checkpoints last year, and almost 90% were loaded. The number of firearms detected at checkpoints has increased every year since 2010, with the exception of 2020, when air travel was depressed due to the pandemic. 

The TSA also has increased the maximum fine for those found trying to carry a gun through a security checkpoint, from $13,910 to $14,950.

Even so, the takeaway is that nothing will change, and that 2023 will likely report even more firearms discovered at checkpoints. 

Some people carry guns like they carry cellphones

The problem with using fines to deter firearm-carrying passengers is that the majority of people are not bringing their gun with them intentionally and don’t have malicious intent. More frequently, they simply forgot to remove it from their bag.  

There are at least 400 million guns in the United States, about 120 firearms for every 100 people. Most states allow concealed carry either with or without a permit, which means that some people carry a firearm much like they carry their cellphone. People unintentionally bringing a gun to an airport security checkpoint could just be residual leakage from more firearms in the general population and the ease at which they are obtained and carried. 

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Of course, guns can be carried by passengers in their checked luggage, unloaded, in a hard carrying case and declared at check-in.   

If the TSA is serious about people not bringing firearms to security checkpoints, what can they do? 

The Transportation Security Administration found 6,542 guns at airport security checkpoints in 2022.

TSA should get to know air travelers better

Bringing a gun to an airport checkpoint is less about the weapon and more about the person. That 

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