Jan. 15 (UPI) -- The U.S. Transportation Security Administration announced Wednesday that officers caught the highest number of guns at airport checkpoints nationwide in 2019.
TSA said it discovered 4,432 firearms in carry-on bags or on passengers at checkpoints throughout the country, the highest total in the agency's 18-year history and a five percent increase from the 4,239 firearms detected in 2018.
An average of about 12.1 firearms were detected each day in 2019 and of those found at checkpoints 85 percent were loaded.
"The continued increase in the number of firearms that travelers bring to airport checkpoints is deeply troubling," TSA Administrator David Pekoske said. "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."
Firearms were discovered at 278 TSA checkpoints throughout the nation. The most were found at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta with 323, followed by Dallas/Fort Worth International with 217, Denver International with 140, George Bush Intercontinental with 138 and Phoenix Sky Harbor International with 132.
Individuals who bring weapons to airport checkpoints are subject to federal civil penalties of up to $13,000 depending on the weapon and the typical first offense penalty is $4,100.