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TSA sees spike in number of firearms at Washington area airport checkpoints in 2016

Local Press Release
Thursday, January 12, 2017
This handgun was detected by TSA officers at a Dulles Airport checkpoint in May 2016. (Photo courtesy of TSA.)

ARLINGTON, Va. - Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers saw a 34 percent increase in the number of guns caught at security checkpoints at the region’s three major airports in 2016 compared to 2015. 

In 2016, TSA officers detected 50 firearms in carry-on bags at Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall, Washington Dulles International and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airports combined, compared to 67 firearms caught in 2015.  

Travelers who bring firearms to airport checkpoints are subject to criminal charges from law enforcement and civil penalties from TSA. However, travelers with proper firearm permits can travel legally with their firearms if they follow a few simple packing guidelines.

Year

Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA)

Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD)

Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall (BWI)

Total

2016

19

24

24

67

2015

 14

20

16

 50

2014

14

9

14

 37

2013

 6

8

13

 27

Every day, TSA officers interact with about 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, or 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 for photos and graphics.)

Nationally, 3,391 firearms were discovered in carry-on bags at checkpoints across the country, averaging approximately nine 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.

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

Year

Nationwide

2016

3,391

2015

2,653

2014

2,212

2013

1,813

2012

1,556

2011

1,320

2010

1,123

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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