The Transportation Security Administration released a 2023 firearm detection report this week that has named Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson as the airport with the most firearm detections out of any other airport in the United States.
Continuing a trend from 2022, ATL leads the nation with 214 guns caught through June 30.
Although the report is for the first half of 2023, officials say they believe that number will grow.
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“That’s on pace to be a record. The vast majority of passengers say they forgot their firearm was in their bag,” said TSA Federal Security Officer for Georgia Robert Spinden.
Spinden said that TSA officers discovered each firearm while routinely screening carry-on items at security checkpoints.
In addition to potential criminal citations, travelers face civil penalties for bringing firearms to the security checkpoint. After a firearm is found, TSA officers notify airport police, who take the firearm and passenger to the airport precinct.
“They will make sure the firearm is not stolen and that the person is legally able to be in possession of the firearm. If all of those things are accurate, the person can get rid of the firearm by giving it to another person who is not flying, placing it in a vehicle or some other secure place or in checked baggage,” said Spinden.
Among the factors TSA considers when determining the civil penalty amount include whether the gun was loaded and whether there was accessible ammunition.
The civil penalty can go up to a maximum of around $15,000 per violation.
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Travelers who want to travel with a firearm must ensure it is appropriately packed in checked baggage and declared at the airline ticket counter.
Airlines may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition, so travelers must also contact their airline for carriage policies before arriving at the airport.
“The TSA is not anti-gun; it’s pro-security,” said Spiden.
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