The Transportation Security Agency has confiscated a record number of firearms this year at airport security checkpoints, CBS News reported.
TSA grabbed 5,674 guns in 2021, the agency told CBS News, with 85% of the weapons loaded with ammunition.
Airports in Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth, and Houston produced the most confiscated firearms.
"It's an all-time high," TSA Administrator David Pekoske told reporters during a Monday briefing.
The previous record of confiscated guns was 4,400 in 2019.
Pekoske said the increase in firearm seizures reflects "what's going on in the country."
"The reason? I think there's just more firearm carriage in the country," Pekoske told CBS News. "That's the best answer I can give you.”
People carrying either loaded firearms or unloaded firearms with accessible ammunition could face $3,000-$10,000 in fines, plus a criminal referral to law enforcement. The monetary penalty is higher for repeat offenders.
Individuals with a history of carrying loaded weapons into security checkpoints might be forced to pay as much as $13,910.
"It's a pretty costly mistake to make," Pekoske told CBS News, noting that TSA will grant civil penalty action only after completing an investigation.
TSA refers cases involving the violation of state laws to local authorities.
The top 10 airports for firearm stops are:
- Dallas-Fort Worth
- Houston (George Bush Intercontinental Airport)
- Fort Lauderdale
- New Orleans
- Salt Lake City
In October, security and law enforcement officials said systems designed to keep air travel safe were being strained due to the current environment, CNN reported.
"We've had many more incidences where there are passenger disturbances both in checkpoints and onboard aircraft. That makes it more important that there are no guns involved," Pekoske told CNN.
TSA also announced Monday that it anticipates holiday travel will be in full swing this year, with peak traffic on Dec. 23-Jan. 3.
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