Guns confiscated at US airports hit record levels
A record number of firearms was confiscated from US airport passengers in 2022, transport officials have said.
A total of 6,301 guns were taken at checkpoints as of mid-December — and of those 88% were still loaded.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said it expects to confiscate 6,600 guns by year's end — a 10% increase over 2021's record level.
The agency said guns brought to airports consumes significant resources and is very costly for the passenger.
The number of guns found surpasses the previous record from just last year, when 5,972 firearms were detected.
Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta, Georgia, had the highest number of recorded firearm stops, while Dallas/Fort Worth Airport in the state of Texas had the second highest.
No reason was given for why more people were attempting to clear security while carrying a weapon.
Gun possession laws vary by US state, but firearms are not allowed in the passenger cabin on an airplane, even if a passenger has a concealed weapon permit.
If TSA officials detect a weapon at a checkpoint, they issue a civil penalty that varies by number of previous offenses and whether the gun was loaded at the time.
The agency also said it is raising the maximum civil penalty for a firearms violation from $13,910 (£11,450) to $14,950.
Airline passengers can travel with firearms in a checked bag when they are unloaded and locked in a hard-sided case. Travelers must also tell airline representatives that they intend to travel with the weapon during check-in.
In April a US Congressman, Madison Cawthorn, was stopped attempting to bring a gun through security at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport in North Carolina, local police said. He admitted the weapon was his and cooperated with officers.
The TSA said it screened more than 2.5 million individuals nationwide on Nov. 27 — the Sunday after the Thanksgiving holiday — marking the highest volume since the start of the pandemic.
There were an estimated 390 million guns in circulation in the US in 2018, according to figures from the Small Arms Survey — a Swiss-based leading research project.