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These airports had the most guns found at checkpoints in 2021

The four airports where the most firearms were discovered in 2021 were the same as 2020.

WASHINGTON — TSA officers confiscated a record number of guns at airport checkpoints in 2021, agency officials announced Tuesday

The Transportation Security Administration said they stopped 5,972 firearms over the course of the year, up more than 1,500 from the previous record of 4,432 guns seized in 2019. 

The TSA already knew it would be a record-breaking year by the fall. By Oct. 3 they had already found 4,495 firearms on passengers or in their carry-on luggage, breaking the 2019 record. In the last three months of the year, 1,477 additional guns were found. 

The agency reported that 86% of the guns they confiscated were loaded at the time. 

All those guns can be a costly mistake for travelers. An unloaded gun carries a fine between $1,500 and $2,475 and a criminal referral, while a loaded gun found at airport security could lead to a fine between $3,000 and $10,000. Repeat offenders could rack up fines for even more, according to the agency's website. 

Federal law prohibits passengers other than certain law enforcement officers from bringing guns or ammunition into the cabin of a plane, although the law allows passengers to put guns in checked bags that go into the cargo hold if they are unloaded and in a locked case.

Airlines don't have to permit guns even in checked bags. All leading U.S. carriers temporarily banned guns in checked bags on flights to Washington, D.C.-area airports for a week after last year's Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

The four airports where the most firearms were discovered in 2021 were the same as 2020's top four.  

Screeners found 507 guns at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, followed by 317 at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, 245 at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, 196 at Phoenix's Sky Harbor International Airport, and 163 at Nashville International Airport.

Which airports seized the most guns in 2021? 

1. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) 507

2. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) 317

3. Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) 245

4. Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) 196

5. Nashville International Airport (BNA) 163

6. Denver International Airport (DEN) 141

7. Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) 128

8. Orlando International Airport (MCO) 124

9. New Orleans Louis Armstrong International Airport (MSY) 119

10. Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) 115 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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