Atlanta was No. 1 for guns seized at airports in 2023, federal officials say – 95.5 WSB

ATLANTA — Officers with the Transportation Security Administration found nearly 7,000 guns at airport checkpoints across the U.S. last year, the agency said Wednesday.

Among the many federalized airports in the U.S., no airport had more firearms stopped in the past year than Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

Of the 6,737 firearms that were found in carry-on bags at airport security checkpoints by the Transportation Security Administration, 451 were in Atlanta.

Authorities said there were “firearm discoveries” at 265 airports. Taking loaded firearms onto a plane is a federal crime.

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Among the thousands of guns stopped at airport security checkpoints, “approximately 93% of these firearms were loaded,” according to TSA officials.

In the final three months of 2023, TSA officers stopped 1,665 firearms. Similar to the yearly portion of loaded guns, almost 93% were loaded in the final quarter of the year.

“We are still seeing far too many firearms at TSA checkpoints, and what’s particularly concerning is the amount of them that are loaded, presenting an unnecessary risk to everyone at the TSA checkpoint,” TSA Administrator David Pekoske said. “Firearms and ammunition are strictly prohibited in carry-on baggage.

“Passengers are only allowed to travel with an unloaded firearm, and only if they pack it properly in a locked, hard-sided case in their checked baggage and first declare it to the airline at the check-in counter.”

TSA officials said that when an officer intercepts a firearm during baggage check, they contact local law enforcement. The passenger is then removed and the firearm is taken from the checkpoint. Local law dictates next steps, with officers either arresting the passenger or giving them a citation.

Separately, TSA officials said they can fine passengers who bring guns to checkpoints with civil penalties of up to $15,000 and also revoke PreCheck eligibility for a minimum of five years, while requiring enhanced screening on future flights.

Here were the top 10 airports, ranked by firearms seized:

  • Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (ATL) – 451
  • Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) – 378
  • George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) – 311
  • Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) – 235
  • Nashville International Airport (BNA) – 188
  • Denver International Airport (DEN) – 178
  • Orlando International Airport (MCO) – 164
  • Tampa International Airport (TPA) – 144
  • Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) – 135
  • Dallas Love Field (DAL) – 125

A full checklist and set of rules for bringing firearms while traveling at U.S. airports can be found online.

WSB-TV’s Sam Sachs contributed to this story


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