These Are the Airports Where TSA Agents Confiscated the Most Guns Last Year

Most people have a pretty good idea of what they can — and can’t — take on an airplane. Which makes this story really crazy, because it’s about the one thing that you would think people would know for sure you can’t take — guns.

In light of the recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida, guns are on practically everyone’s minds. Keep reading to find out which airports’ TSA agents reported the largest numbers of incidents involving passengers trying to take guns on planes. And make sure you read page 5 to find out which airports have had people try to get onboard. Finally, decide for yourself if these people are forgetful or just crazy.

1. How many guns did TSA confiscate in 2017?

a pile of surrendered guns at an event for surrendering them

TSA confiscated more than 10 firearms per day. | David McNew/Getty Images

Agents at Transportation Security Administration airport checkpoints TSA collected a record number of guns in 2017 across the U.S. last year, according to Bloomberg. In 2017, TSA agents found 3,957 firearms on passengers — that works out to an of 10.8 per day. These numbers represent a 16.7% increase from the 3,391guns the TSA found in 2016

Next: Wondering why the numbers are up?

2. Here’s why TSA is finding more guns

Security chect at TSA

Concealed firearms are more popular, and more people are flying. | Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

According to Bloomberg, there are a couple of reasons TSA agents are finding a record number of guns on passengers. First, carrying concealed firearms is gaining popularity in the U.S., and second, more people are flying. In fact, in 2017, 771.5 million passengers went through federal airport checkpoints, whereas only 738.3 million did in 2016.

“While it’s impossible to ascertain an exact, scientific reason for the increase, there does seem to be a correlation between the increase in the number of firearms caught and the increase in passenger volume,” said TSA spokesman Mike England.

Next: It doesn’t stop at guns

3. People tried to take other weapons onboard, too

Smoke grenade TSA confiscated

Agents confiscated this smoke grenade. | TSA via Instagram

Guns weren’t the only weapons passengers tried to bring onboard planes in 2017. TSA agents also discovered gunpowder and grenades in passengers’ bags, and, in one case, a box of inert explosives. The explosives belonged to a military instructor traveling through Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport, who insisted he forgot they were in his carry-on, according to Bloomberg.

Next: What you’ve been waiting for

4. Top 10 airports for firearm discoveries in 2017

Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport,

Atlanta comes in at No. 1. | qwesy qwesy/Wikimedia Commons

And here they are, the airports where TSA agents found the most guns. They are ranked from highest to lowest.

  1. Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport — ATL
  2. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport — DFW
  3. George Bush Intercontinental Airport, Houston, Texas — IAH
  4. Denver International Airport — DEN
  5. Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport — PHX
  6. Tampa International Airport — TPA
  7. Orlando International Airport — MCO
  8. Dallas Love Field — Dal
  9. Nashville International Airport — BNA
  10. Seattle–Tacoma International Airport — SEA

Next: You won’t believe this.

5. TSA found loaded guns


Most confiscated guns were loaded. | George Frey/Getty Images

According to Bloomberg, TSA not only confiscated guns at checkpoints, 84% of them were loaded. At the No. 1 airport on this list, Atlanta, TSA confiscated 245 firearms in one year alone.

Jeff Price, a professor of aviation management at Metropolitan State University of Denver, said that TSA recovery of firearms at checkpoints might be higher in states where more concealed carry is more popular. “In Georgia they have a situation at the Atlanta airport where you can lawfully carry into the airport as long as you don’t get into the TSA line,” said Price. “The states where there’s more firearms typically carried, there’s just more of a chance you’ll have it at the checkpoint.”

Next: Some might simply be confused

6. Some people really don’t know you can’t take a gun on a plane

Seat Rows inside an Airplane

The concealed-carry laws confuse people. | gabriellephotos/iStock/Getty Images

Concealed carry laws can be confusing, and that might be another reason that so many people are trying to travel with firearms. Add that to people’s forgetfulness and you’ve got the perfect storm. “I think, unfortunately, there’s a lot of people who forget they have [a gun]. A lot of people, they’ll put it in their laptop bag and they’ll put it in a purse. They’ll forget they have it with them,” said Price.

Next: New security measures

7. Another reason TSA is finding more guns

TSA Precheck

Agents are better able to screen luggage. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Price also feels that the increase in TSA gun confiscations might be due to new screening policies that went into effect in 2015. Updated security measures now make passengers put their electronics that are larger than a phone into a bin. “That could be responsible for some of the higher numbers because they’re better able to see what’s left in the bag,” said Price.

Next: Get the straight dope.

8. What is the airlines firearms policy?

rows of guns in the UK

You can transport firearms if you follow the rules. | Scott Barbour/Getty Images

The TSA has very explicit instructions on traveling with guns. You can “transport unloaded firearms in a locked hard-sided container as checked baggage only. Declare the firearm and/or ammunition to the airline when checking your bag at the ticket counter. The container must completely secure the firearm from being accessed. Locked cases that can be easily opened are not permitted. Be aware that the container the firearm was in when purchased may not adequately secure the firearm when it is transported in checked baggage.”

Read more: This Is Why the NRA’s Gun Policies Are Just as Naive as Ever

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