Transportation Security Administration officers caught more firearms at checkpoints nationwide in 2019 “than ever before” in the agency’s 18-year history.

That’s according to a press release from the agency Wednesday.

All told, there were 4,432 firearms discovered in carry-on bags or on passengers at checkpoints across the country last year.

That works out to an average of 12.1 firearms per day, a 5% increase nationally over 2018.

And 87% of those firearms were loaded.

“Don’t pack your firearm in your carry-on bag,” says TSA. “Bringing a firearm to the security checkpoint may lead to a civil penalty of up to $13,333 or an arrest. And if you’re a TSA Pre✓® member, you could lose your status.”

TSA

“The continued increase in the number of firearms that travelers bring to airport checkpoints is deeply troubling,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske in the press release. “There is a proper way to travel safely with a firearm. First and foremost, it should be unloaded. Then it should be packed in a hard-sided locked case, taken to the airline check-in counter to be declared, and checked.”

The top five airports where TSA officers detected guns last year were Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International with 323; Dallas/Fort Worth International with 217; Denver International with 140; George Bush Intercontinental with 138; and Phoenix Sky Harbor International with 132.

Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu was not mentioned in the report.

Travelers who bring firearms to checkpoints are subject to criminal charges and civil penalties of up to $13,000, depending on the weapon.

Here are the TSA guidelines on transporting firearms and ammunition. And here is TSA’s instruction on civil enforcement.

And here is an indicator of our times: In 2008, just 926 firearms were brought to checkpoints.

Support local journalism

Studies have shown that when local journalism disappears, government financing costs go up, fewer people run for public office, elected officials become less responsive to their constituents, and voter turnout decreases. Our small nonprofit newsroom works hard every day to present local news in a deep and transparent way, without fear or favor. We also rely on donations from readers like you to keep us afloat. The more support we receive; the stronger, more sustainable our journalism becomes; the more accountable we are to you. Please consider supporting our Honolulu Civil Beat with a tax-deductible gift.

About the Author