The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) remained vigilant to myriad threats in 2022 and reached a new record in firearm interceptions by Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) at checkpoints. Altogether, TSOs stopped 6,542 firearms at airport checkpoints last year and 88% were loaded. TSA is increasing penalties and extending the loss of TSA PreCheck eligibility for up to five years to help ensure 2023 does not surpass 2022’s record.
The five U.S. airports with the most TSA firearm discoveries include Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, which topped the list with 448 firearm finds. Dallas Fort Worth International Airport came in second with 385 followed by Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport with 298; Nashville International Airport with 213 and Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport with 196. Orlando International Airport; Denver International Airport; Austin-Bergstrom International Airport; Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and Tampa International Airport round out the Top 10.
Some airports saw a lower total than 2021, indicating that the message not to bring guns to the checkpoint may be getting through, at least in some areas. For example, TSOs in Chicago stopped 85 handguns at Chicago O’Hare International Airport security checkpoints in 2022, and 38 at Chicago Midway International Airport, a decrease for both airports from 2021. Elsewhere, TSOs stopped 21 handguns at Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport security checkpoints in 2022, a decrease from the 23 guns caught in 2021. TSOs at Kentucky airports discovered a total of 116 firearms in travelers’ carry-on luggage in 2022, a slight decrease from the 2021 total of 119. North Carolina airports discovered a total of 250 firearms in travelers’ carry-on luggage in 2022, down slightly from the total of 254 found in 2021. Despite the statewide decrease in firearms, Charlotte Douglas International and Asheville Regional airports both saw all-time highs for firearm detections at their security checkpoints