(NEXSTAR) – For the second consecutive year, a record number of firearms were found at TSA checkpoints across the U.S.
Last year, 6,542 firearms were found in carry-on bags at more than 260 airports. Most of the firearms were detected at airports in southern states, primarily Texas and Florida. Among those was a gun inside a raw chicken at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Florida.
Of firearms found, TSA reports 88% were loaded.
TSA agents found the most firearms at some of the country’s busiest airports: 448 at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, down from the 507 found in 2021, and 385 at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, up slightly from 317 in 2021.
Here’s where TSA agents reported seizing the most firearms:
- Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International (ATL): 448
- Dallas/Fort Worth International (DFW): 385
- Houston’s George Bush International (IAH): 298
- Nashville International (BNA): 213
- Phoenix Sky Harbor International (PHX): 196
- Orlando International (MCO): 162
- Denver International (DEN): 156
- Austin-Bergstrom International (AUS): 150
- Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International (FLL): 134
- Tampa International (TPA): 131
Two of these airports – Austin and Tampa – were not among the top 10 last year. They replace Louis Armstrong New Orleans International and Salt Lake City International.
According to TSA, agents find one firearm for roughly every 116,394 passengers screened at security checkpoints.
If an agent finds a firearm in your carry-on, local airport law enforcement is notified. That agency then determines what happens to you and your firearm. But it doesn’t stop there – TSA can level a civil penalty against you, in addition to any criminal citation you may face. Civil penalties could cost as much as $14,950 per violation per person.
Firearms are not allowed in carry-on luggage, regardless of if you have a concealed carry permit, TSA reminds. If you are planning on traveling with a firearm, it needs to be unloaded; packed in a locked, hard-sided case; and kept in checked baggage. You’ll also need to declare the firearm and any ammunition or parts at the ticket counter as well.