Aviation

TSA takes more loaded guns from North Texas travelers than anywhere else in the US

What to expect during a TSA pat-down screening

Here's a look at what TSA says you can expect during a pat down screening. This video was produced by TSA in March 2017.
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Here's a look at what TSA says you can expect during a pat down screening. This video was produced by TSA in March 2017.

North Texas is the bring-a-gun-in-your-carry-on-luggage capital of the nation, the TSA says.

TSA agents found and confiscated more firearms in carry-on luggage in North Texas’ two airports in 2018 than anywhere else in the U.S., according to data released Thursday.

At DFW International Airport, 219 firearms — 193 of which were loaded — were confiscated by TSA, while 89 more — 83 loaded — were taken from carry-on luggage at Dallas’ Love Field. That makes them Nos. 2 and 9, respectively, on the TSA’s list of the top 10 airports in firearm discovery last year.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport won the dubious distinction of “most firearms taken,” with 298 last year, 253 of which were loaded. North Texas’ two major airports just edged Atlanta out in both total firearms (308-298) and loaded firearms taken (276-253).

Hartsfield-Jackson, with an annual passneger count of over 100 million, was also the busiest airport in the U.S. in 2017, according to WorldAtlas.

86 percent (3,656 total) of all those guns taken from carry-on luggage in 2018 was loaded, the TSA says. 34 percent (1,432) of the total firearms discovered were not only loaded, but had a round in the chamber.

The 4,239 guns discovered in carry-ons across the nation represents a 7 percent increase in firearm discoveries over 2017, when 3,957 firearms were found and taken. That makes it a record, again, but every year since 2008 has been a new high-water mark in the number of firearms confiscated by the TSA, according to the data.

For another way of looking at it, that means TSA agets took an average of 11.6 guns per day.

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Four Texas airports are in the top 10 for firearm discoveries in 2018. The below is taken from the TSA release on the 2018 numbers:

  1. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL): 298 – an increase of 53 compared to 2017 (253 loaded)

  2. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW): 219 (193 loaded)

  3. Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX): 129 (120 loaded)

  4. Denver International Airport (DEN): 126 (95 loaded)

  5. Orlando International Airport (MCO): 123 (112 loaded)

  6. George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH): 117 – a decrease of 25 firearms compared to 2017 (115 loaded)

  7. Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL): 96 (80 loaded)

  8. Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS): 93 (76 loaded)

  9. Dallas Love Field Airport (DAL): 89 (83 loaded)

  10. Nashville International Airport (BNA): 86 (80 loaded)

In Texas, unlawfully bringing a gun to in your carry-on is either a third-class felony or a Class A misdemeanor, depending on the circumstances, and laws vary from state to state. In Georgia, unlawfully bringing a gun into an airport security checkpoint results in either a misdemeanor or a federal charge, depending on whether the offender does or does not have a concealed handgun license.

The TSA urges travelers to make themselves familiar with state and local firearm laws for each airport they routinely travel from. In addition to whatever legal penalty offenders face, the TSA may impose up to $13,333 in civil penalties per firearm violation, with higher penalties for repeat offenders.

Transportation Security Administration officers have kept a lot of dangerous and often times wacky items off of commercial aircraft this year. Here is their list of the top 10 most unusual finds.

Matt is an award-winning real time reporter and a University of Texas at Austin graduate who’s been based at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram since 2011. His regional focus is Texas, and that makes sense. He’s only lived there his whole life.


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