BALTIMORE - Everyday, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers interact with nearly two million travelers across the U.S. with a single goal in mind, ensuring the safety of the traveling public. TSA had a busy year in 2016, screening more than 738 million passengers, 43 million more passengers than in 2015.
TSA officers continued their vigilance in protecting our nation’s transportation systems in 2016, including catching unusual items at the checkpoints. (For more specific information on unusual items, visit the TSA Blog at for photos and graphics.)
In total, 3,391 firearms were discovered in carry-on bags at checkpoints across the country, averaging approximately 9 firearms per day, about a 28 percent increase in firearm discoveries from the total of 2,653 in 2015. Eighty-three percent of the guns caught in 2016 were loaded.
At Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, TSA officers detected 24 firearms in 2016, up significantly from the 16 detected in 2015, a 62 percent increase.
TSA Firearms Catches at Checkpoints in Airports in the Washington Metropolitan Region
Number of Firearms Caught in 2013
Number of Firearms Caught in 2014
Number of Firearms Caught in 2015
Number of Firearms Caught in 2016
Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport
The top five airports where TSA officers detected guns at checkpoints in 2016 were: Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International with 198; Dallas/Fort Worth International with 192; George Bush Intercontinental at Houston with 128; Phoenix Sky Harbor International with 101; and Denver International with 98. These same airports were in the top five for guns at checkpoints in 2014 and 2015.
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 that they have the proper gun permits for the states that they are traveling to and from. Airlines may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition so travelers should also contact their airline regarding firearm and ammunition carriage policies prior to arriving at the airport.
Passengers are permitted to travel with firearms in checked baggage if they are unloaded, packed in a hard-sided case, locked, and packed separately from ammunition. Ammunition must be in its original box and can be packed inside the hard-sided case, next to the firearm. Even if the box of ammunition is not full, the bullets must be in their original case. Then the case with the firearm should be brought to the airline check-in counter and the airline representative should be informed that the passenger wants to travel with the gun. Firearms are transported inside checked baggage and are placed in the belly of the aircraft. TSA has details on how to properly travel with a firearm posted on TSA.gov.
Firearms Detected at TSA Checkpoints Nationwide