BOSTON – Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers at New England airports detected firearms at a higher rate in 2020 than in 2019. At seven New England airports, TSA caught one firearm for every 434,674 passengers screened in 2020 compared to one caught for every 869,407 passengers in 2019. Nationwide, a firearm was detected for every 99,583 passengers screened in 2020.
The increase in firearms detected per passenger at New England airports mirrors what happened around the country. Throughout 2020, TSA officers nationwide caught approximately 10 firearms per million passengers compared to 5 firearms per million passengers in 2019.
TSA officers at 234 airports nationwide discovered 3,257 firearms in carry-on bags or on passengers at checkpoints in 2020, about 83 percent were loaded. In New England, there were 22 firearms detected, and 82 percent were loaded.
“The rate at which our TSA officers stopped individuals with firearms from boarding aircraft is alarming. Passengers are strictly prohibited from bringing firearms onboard planes,” said Bob Allison, TSA Federal Security Director for Massachusetts and Maine. “There is a proper way to travel safely with a firearm. Most importantly, it should be unloaded. Then packed in a hard-sided locked case, and taken to the airline check-in counter to be declared, and checked. Trying to bring a firearm to a TSA security checkpoint may result in significant fines or even arrest.”
TSA Firearm Catches at Checkpoints in New England Airports:
FIREARM CATCHES BY TSA IN NEW ENGLAND
Boston Logan International
T.F. Green Airport
Manchester-Boston Regional Airport
Portland International Jetport
Bradley International Airport
Burlington International Airport
The top five airports where TSA officers detected firearms at checkpoints in 2020 were: Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International with 220; Dallas/Fort Worth International with 176; Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport with 126; Phoenix Sky Harbor International with 124 and Denver International with 104. Visit the TSA Newsroom for the rest of the Top-10 airports where TSA officers detected firearms.
Boston Logan International’s 11 firearm detections ranked 62nd in the nation and T.F. Green Airport’s 4 firearm detections ranked 110th. While Boston Logan, Bradley International, Portland Jetport and Burlington International all saw declines in the amount of firearms detected, only Bradley International’s firearm per passenger rate declined in 2020.
Airline passengers can fly with firearms in checked baggage if the firearms are properly packed and declared at check-in. However, firearm possession laws vary by state and locality. TSA advises travelers to familiarize themselves with state and local firearm laws for each point of travel prior to departure to ensure they transport guns in accordance with applicable laws. Airlines may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition, so travelers should also contact the airline regarding firearm and ammunition carriage policies prior to arriving at the airport.
In some cities, local law enforcement may file criminal charges against travelers who bring firearms to the TSA checkpoint. TSA will assess civil penalties that vary by number of previous offenses and whether the firearm was loaded at the time. The complete list of penalties is posted online. Firearms are not permitted in the passenger cabin of an airplane; this includes travelers with a concealed weapon permit.
Where local firearm possession laws permit, passengers may travel with firearms in checked baggage if they are unloaded and packed in a locked hard-sided case. Ammunition must be in its original box and can be packed inside the hard-side case next to the firearm. Even if the box of ammunition is not full, the bullets must be in their original case. The passenger must present the case with the firearm at the airline check-in counter and inform the airline representative of their intention to travel with the gun. Firearms are transported with checked baggage and are placed in the cargo hold of the aircraft.
Data collected represents the number of firearms caught on passengers and in their carry-on bags at the nation’s TSA checkpoints. Excluded from the data are improperly packed firearms at checked baggage stations, toys, replicas and BB guns. Visit the TSA website for details on traveling properly with a firearm.