Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents found a record number of firearms inside passengers' carry-on bags last year at airport security checkpoints throughout the country. File photo by Gary Caskey/UPI/ | License Photo
Jan. 17 (UPI) -- Transportation Security Administration officers found a record number of firearms inside passengers' carry-on luggage last year, with 88% of those weapons loaded, according to the agency.
TSA announced Tuesday it found 6,542 firearms at security checkpoints at 262 different airports in 2022. That number is 10% higher than the 5,972 firearms seized from travelers in 2021.
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport tops the list for the most firearm discoveries last year, with 448 weapons found inside passengers' carry-ons. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport had 385, while George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston had 298 weapons finds. Nashville International Airport, with 213, and Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix, with 196 firearms, round out the top five.
"Far too many weapons were discovered in carry-on bags in 2022! Shout-out to our officers for their continuous efforts keeping the traveling public safe," TSA tweeted Tuesday.
For 2022, TSA said it found one firearm for every 116,394 travelers screened across the country.
"When a TSA officer sees the image of a firearm on the X-ray screen, TSA immediately notifies the local airport law enforcement agency, which responds to the security checkpoint. Law enforcement removes the firearm from the X-ray tunnel and makes contact with the traveler," TSA said in a statement. "What happens to the firearm and the traveler is up to the discretion of airport law enforcement."
While transporting firearms inside carry-on luggage can bring civil or criminal penalties, including fines starting at $3,000, guns are allowed under certain conditions.
"Firearms can be transported on a commercial aircraft only if they are unloaded, packed in a locked, hard-sided case and placed in checked baggage," according to TSA. "Any type of replica firearm is also prohibited in carry-on baggage and must be transported in checked luggage."
Anyone traveling with a firearm must also declare the weapon during the check-in process, while adhering to all gun laws and airline requirements.