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Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers found twice as many firearms per million passengers screened at airport security checkpoints in 2020 compared to the prior year, the agency said Tuesday.
The total number of passengers screened in 2020 fell by 500 million as compared to the previous year, due to the coronavirus pandemic which stymied air travel, but the detection rate averaged to approximately 10 firearms per million passengers in 2020, up from about 5 firearms per million passengers screened in 2019, a record for the 19-year-old agency.
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TSA officials said 3,257 firearms were found at 234 airports nationwide, 83% of which were loaded. The highest total number of catches reported was at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Georgia, followed by Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport, both in Texas.
In 2019, TSA officers stopped a record 4,432 firearms, of which 87% were loaded.
“I commend our officers for their commitment to TSA’s security mission by identifying and stopping these weapons at TSA checkpoints. Firearms are strictly prohibited onboard planes in the passenger cabin,” Darby LaJoye, the executive assistant administrator for TSA security operations, said in a statement.
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“Bringing a firearm to a TSA security checkpoint poses a serious risk to TSA officer and passenger safety, and doing so may result in significant fines or arrests,” he added.
Typically firearms are allowed in checked luggage but rules vary from state to state.
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Earlier this month, several airlines — including United, Delta, Southwest and Frontier — banned checked firearms on flights to Washington, D.C., ahead of the presidential inauguration amidst heightened security concerns after insurrectionists stormed the Capitol during the certification of the Electoral College vote.
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