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US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Administrator David Pekoske announced, during a media briefing, that the agency has confiscated more guns at US airports in 2021 than in any other year since its creation two decades ago.
“It’s an all-time high,” Pekoske noted. “The reason? I think there’s just more firearm carriage in the country. That’s the best answer I can give you.”
The previous annual record high was 4,432 guns confiscated in 2019, but in 2021, TSA seized a whopping 5,674 firearms at US airport security checkpoints.
The numbers peaked in November during a time of increased air travel ahead of Thanksgiving. TSA officers screened almost 21 million travelers during the 10-day holiday period and expect the next peak to come during Christmas. Airports in Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth, and Houston showed the highest detection rates.
The majority of the confiscated firearms – about 85% – were loaded when they were found by officers. TSA rules allow guns to be carried only if they are unloaded and in checked baggage.
People flouting firearms rules face hefty fines of as much as $13,910 in case of repeat violators and may be referred to local law enforcement for criminal prosecution, Pekoske warned.
“It’s a pretty costly mistake to make,” TSA Administrator said.
The TSA was created in response to the September 2001 terrorist attacks as part of the Department of Homeland Security. It is mostly concerned with providing security to airports and passenger airlines in the US, though other modes of transportation are also in its purview.