Packing for the airport: In 2016, a new record for guns found in carry-ons at TSA checkpoints

(Updated Jan. 12, 2017)

We have a new record for the number of guns found by the Transportation Security Administration in 2016. In 2016, TSA screeners found 3,391 firearms in passengers’ carry-ons at airport security checkpoints. Yup, a new record — 28 percent higher than the 2015 also-record of 2,653 guns.

The TSA posts a very useful blog, updated weekly, with a chart that shows how many guns were found in passengers’ carry-ons that week, as well as the type of gun, the airport where seized, and whether the gun was loaded or not. The vast majority of those found are loaded, many with rounds in the chambers.


Year by year, as more Americans routinely carry firearms, the number of guns found in carry-ons by airport security has been growing sharply. Incidentally, nearly everyone found trying to take a gun onto an airplane claims they just plumb forgot they had that dang firearm with them. I’m not quite sure what to make of that except to note that I am a Vietnam veteran, and I cannot imagine, from boot camp onward, claiming that I didn’t know where my gun was. There would have been, as they say, consequences.

In the good old days, the National Rifle Association used to crusade for sensible gunsmanship and firearms safety — before it became strictly a right-wing propaganda arm and financial lobby for firearms manufacturers. These days, you’ll near nary a peep about stressing gun safety from the NRA, or from a complacent news media that show no interest in covering day-to-day travel, other than clueless reports on airfares or hotel lobby designs.

To put the record 2016 haul of 3,391 guns into better perspective, in 2005, the first year the TSA published the gun statistics, a mere 660 firearms were found.

So we’re on a roll! And we’re not even counting the unknown but obviously significant number of guns that slip through the TSA’s crack security.


And (drum-roll please) here is our Top 10 list for 2016:

Top 10 airports for firearms discoveries by TSA in 2016:

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL):198
Dallas/Fort Worth International (DFW): 192
George Bush Intercontinental Airport – Houston (IAH):128
Phoenix Sky Harbor International (PHX):101
Denver International (DEN): 98
Orlando International Airport (MCO):86
Nashville International (BNA):80
Tampa International (TPA):79
Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS):78
Salt Lake City International (SLC):75


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