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Record number of firearms found at DIA

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport topped the list with 448 firearm finds, the most ever recorded at any airport since the TSA was founded.
Credit: KUSA

DENVER — A record number of firearms were discovered inside carry-on luggage at Denver International Airport (DIA) in 2022, according to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

All of the 156 firearms were found during the routine X-ray screening of carry-on bags. That number sets a new record for firearm finds at DIA's three security checkpoints. It's up from 141 in 2021.

Nationwide last year, TSA officers found 6,542 firearms at 262 different airports. According to TSA, 88% of the firearms were loaded.

DIA ranked seventh nationally for the number of firearm discoveries by TSA officers in 2022. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport topped the list with 448 firearm finds, the most ever recorded at any airport since the TSA was founded in November 2001.

“TSA at DEN has the distinction of being in the Top 10 nationally for the number of firearms brought by departing travelers to the security checkpoint. This is not the type of recognition we are seeking,” said TSA Federal Security Director for Colorado Larry Nau.

“I am asking all travelers to do better this year by checking the contents of carry-on luggage prior to coming to the airport and packing firearms properly for transport on a commercial aircraft. For those who choose not to follow the rules, you will have contact with airport law enforcement and face a stiff civil penalty.” 

When a TSA officer sees the image of a firearm on the X-ray screen, TSA immediately notifies the local airport law enforcement agency, which responds to the security checkpoint.

 A law enforcement officer removes the firearm from the X-ray tunnel and makes contact with the traveler. What happens to the firearm and the traveler is up to the discretion of the airport law enforcement agency. In addition to potential, TSA can levy a civil penalty against the traveler.

Among the factors that TSA considers when determining the civil penalty amount include whether the firearm was loaded and whether there was accessible ammunition. 

Even if a traveler has a concealed weapons permit, firearms are not permitted in carry-on luggage.

How to travel with firearms

Firearms can be transported on a commercial aircraft only if they are unloaded, packed in a locked, hard-sided case and placed in checked baggage. 

Any type of replica firearm is also prohibited in carry-on baggage and must be transported in checked luggage. 

At the airport during the check-in process, travelers must go to the airline ticket counter to declare the firearm, ammunition and any firearm parts. 

Prior to traveling, passengers are encouraged to check gun laws and regulations at their destination to ensure they are in compliance with local and state laws. TSA also recommends travelers check with their airline prior to their flight to ensure they comply with any airline-specific requirements.

TSA has multiple resources available to passengers to help them determine whether an item is permitted in carry-on baggage, checked baggage or not at all. Travelers can use the “Can I Bring” feature on the TSA website or on the TSA mobile app, myTSA. 



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