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The TSA found a record number of guns in carry-on bags this year

Travelers arrive for flights at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago on Dec. 16.
Scott Olson
/
Getty Images
Travelers arrive for flights at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago on Dec. 16.

With two weeks left in the year, the Transportation Security Administration already broke a yearly record for most firearms intercepted at security checkpoints.

The milestone comes during a period of heightened holiday travel expected to reach pre-pandemic levels.

The number of firearms found in carry-on bags went down in 2020 during the pandemic, but far surpassed preceding years in 2021 and 2022.

Firearms are never allowed in carry-on bags, regardless of state gun laws.

TSA officers stopped 6,301 firearms — most of which were loaded — and expect to find some 300 more before the year is over, according to a press release on Friday. This number already beats the all-time record, set just the previous year, of 5,972 detected firearms.

The TSA also increased the maximum fine for the violation to $14,950, it said. The agency collected more than $52 million in fines over the past three years, one TSA official told Forbes.

Anyone found traveling with a firearm in their carry-on could also lose their TSA PreCheck eligibility, need to go through more screenings going forward, or be arrested, depending on the state.

"When a passenger brings a firearm to the checkpoint, this consumes significant security resources and poses a potential threat to transportation security, in addition to being very costly for the passenger," TSA Administrator David Pekoske said in the press release.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Giulia Heyward
Giulia Heyward is a weekend reporter for Digital News, based out of New York. She previously covered education and other national news as a reporting fellow at The New York Times and as the national education reporter at Capital B News. She interned for POLITICO, where she covered criminal justice reform in Florida, and CNN, as a writer for the trends & culture team. Her work has also been published in The Atlantic, HuffPost and The New Republic.