WASHINGTON — With three months to go in the year, security screeners have already confiscated a record number of guns at airport checkpoints in 2021.
The Transportation Security Administration said Wednesday that screeners found 4,495 firearms on passengers or in their carry-on bags, as of Oct. 3. That breaks the previous record of 4,432 firearms found at checkpoints in all of 2019.
So far in 2021, TSA said it has discovered about 11 firearms for every million travelers.
Last year, security screeners confiscated guns at airport checkpoints at a record pace although the total number of guns dropped along with the steep plunge in travelers because of the pandemic.
The four airports where the most firearms have been discovered in 2021 were the same as last year.
Screeners have found 391 guns at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, followed by 232 at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, 168 at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, 147 at Phoenix's Sky Harbor International Airport, and 115 at Nashville International Airport.
Federal law prohibits passengers other than certain law enforcement officers from bringing guns or ammunition into the cabin. Federal 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 the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
Top 10 airports with most firearms discovered in 2021, as of Oct. 3:
1. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) 391
2. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) 232
3. Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) 168
4. Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) 147
5. Nashville International Airport (BNA) 115
6. Denver International Airport (DEN) 107
7. Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) 107
8. New Orleans Louis Armstrong International Airport (MSY) 90
9. Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) 90
10. Dallas Love Field Airport (DAL) 88