USA Flag

Official website of the Department of Homeland Security

Transportation Security Administration

TSA detected record number of firearms at checkpoints in 2016

Local Press Release
Thursday, January 12, 2017

ALBANY, N.Y. - 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 nine firearms per day, approximately 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.

Greater Rochester International Airport saw the most improvement as no travelers brought firearms to the airport’s checkpoint in 2016 compared to five that were brought to the checkpoint in 2015. On the other hand, Buffalo-Niagara International Airport saw an increase in the number of guns brought to the airport’s checkpoint, when six guns were detected in 2016 compared to just two in 2015.

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.

The Upstate New York region saw 10 firearms detected by TSA officers at checkpoints in 2015 and again in 2016.

TSA Firearms Catches at Checkpoints in Airports in the Upstate New York Region

Airport

Number of Firearms Caught in 2013

Number of Firearms Caught in 2014

Number of Firearms Caught in 2015

Number of Firearms Caught in 2016

 Albany International Airport (ALB)

0

 3

1

2

 Buffalo Niagara International Airport (BUF)

4

3

2

6

Greater Rochester International Airport (ROC)

0

 3

5

0

 Syracuse Hancock International Airport (SYR)

1

 2

2

2

Totals

5

11

10

10

 

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 the airline regarding firearm and ammunition carriage policies prior to arriving at the airport.

Weapons, including firearms, firearm parts and ammunition, are never permitted in carry-on bags, but they can be transported in checked bags if they are properly packed and declared to the airline.

TSA has details on how to properly travel with a firearm posted on TSA.gov.

Firearms Detected at TSA Checkpoints Nationwide           

Year

Nationwide

2016

3,391

2015

2,653

2014

2,212

2013

1,813

2012

1,556

2011

1,320

2010

1,123