TSA Reports on Number of Guns Found in Airports During 2016


In 2016, the TSA screened exactly 738,318,264 airline passengers (more than 2 million per day). During those searches, TSA officers also screened 466 million checked bags at airports around the country, and during that time, they found quite a few firearms.


The following is a chart that the TSA released showing the number of firearms that were not properly checked in when boarding an airline during 2016. According to the TSA's own website, proper firearms transportation is as follows…

You may 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.

But as you can see, not everyone adhered to these rules…


So in the U.S., just last year 3,391 firearms were discovered in carry-on bags at checkpoints, averaging more than nine firearms per day. Of those, 2,815 (83 percent) were loaded at the time of inspection. These firearms were intercepted at a total of 238 airports; 2 more airports than in 2015 and there was a 28 percent increase in firearm discoveries from 2015’s total of 2,653.


Obviously, there is an increase in firearms at airports, but that is not surprising, considering there has been an increase in firearms sales these past few years.

Photo Courtesy of the Washington Post

Photo Courtesy of the Washington Post

As you can see in the above graph, background checks for firearm purchases have had a pretty steady rise since 2006. So more guns showing up at the airport shouldn't raise an alarm. Especially due to the fact that even with these thousands of guns getting into the TSA checkout there have not been any issues at that area of the airport. As you are likely aware, the tragedy in Fort Lauderdale took place at the baggage area, where Esteban Santiago entered the building in an area devoid of any TSA security checks.

No, there haven't been any issues with firearms at the TSA check-in however, the rules are the rules and if you want to avoid being one of these 3,391 citizens who no doubt had a humongous headache at the airport, we strongly advise that you follow the TSA's quoted rules that we posted above so that you are able to make your flight and hold onto your gun when you touch the ground at your destination.

For more information about how to handle the airport when you plan on traveling with your gun, check out our Concealed Carry Podcast Episode: Air Travel with a Firearm and Ammo

Have any of you had any issues with getting your guns through security at the airport? Let us know your story in the comments below.
Safe travels, everybody!

About Craig Martin

Craig Martin grew up in the unincorporated town of Lewis, Wisconsin. From a young age, Craig was introduced to guns, as he was tasked with defending his backwood home’s wiring from a scourge of red squirrels.

Ever the animal lover, though; Craig couldn’t let these creatures die needlessly. So he would take his kills and leave them for the foxes, coyotes, and bears to eat at a deer feeder his grandfather built around their home.

His lifestyle made Craig understand that guns are a tool and ever since, has spread the word about how firearms are not a menace, like the red squirrel, but an item to help people. He instils this in every article he writes for USA Firearm Training.

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