TSA Reporting Higher "Catch Rates"

January 28, 2021
Kevin "KJ" Jarnagin

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) doubled its catch rate of firearms. This marks the highest catch rate in the 19-year history of the organization.

According to a report released by the TSA, it detected twice the number of firearms in 2020 versus 2019, at approximately 10 firearms per million in 2020 compared to five firearms per million in 2019.

The percentage of firearms caught increased, but the number of passengers screened dropped by 500 million in 2020 compared to 2019. In total, there were over 3,000 firearms caught in carry-ons or on passengers at 234 airports nationwide. Of the 3,000-plus firearms, about 83% of them were loaded.

“Most of the guns brought to our checkpoints have been loaded, many with ammunition chambered. An accidental discharge could result in tragedy,” said TSA spokesperson Sari Koshetz.

The top 10 airports with the most firearms seized include:

1. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) 220

2. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) 176

3. Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) 126

4. Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) 124

5. Denver International Airport (DEN) 104

6. Nashville International Airport (BNA) 94

7. Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) 87

8. Orlando International Airport (MCO) 79

9. Las Vegas McCarran International Airport (LAS) 72

10. Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) 71

This is surprising given the limited travel during 2020. It is unclear why passengers increased their negligence. The TSA does not allow passengers to carry firearms loaded/unloaded in their carry-on bags. My guess: it is exactly what happened to one of my buddies. He took his bag to the range the day before and simply forgot to take his firearm out of the bag he took to the range. It is unfortunate and leads many of us to question how people forget, but it does happen and apparently more often than we believe. 

Airline passengers can fly with firearms in checked baggage if the firearms are properly packed and declared at check-in, however, firearm possession laws vary by state and locality. TSA advises travelers to familiarize themselves with state and local firearm laws for each point of travel prior to departure to ensure they transport guns in accordance with applicable laws. Airlines may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition, so travelers should also contact the airline regarding firearm and ammunition carriage policies prior to arriving at the airport.

Kevin Jarnagin (KJ) hails from Oklahoma but quickly established Louisiana roots after joining the Gun Talk team. KJ grew up as a big game hunter and often finds himself in a bass boat. Whether it’s making his way to British Columbia for elk or training with pistols, KJ always seems to find a gun in his hands and adventure on his mind.