News and notes from Hartsfield-Jackson, the world's busiest airport

Atlanta airport surpasses its record for guns found at security checkpoints

More guns have been caught at security checkpoints at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport than the entire year of 2014, with 114 found so far this year.

That surpasses the total of 109 firearms found at Atlanta airport checkpoints for the full year of 2014, and sets a record for Atlanta. Only 62 firearms had been found at checkpoints in the first eight months of 2014.

Hartsfield-Jackson is tied with Dallas-Fort Worth International for the title of most firearms found at security checkpoints in the country so far this year.

Hartsfield-Jackson is the world's busiest airport -- though as a hub where the majority of passengers are connecting, the passenger count includes tens of millions of passengers every year who do not go through security checkpoints in Atlanta.  Other airports in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco have more passengers going through checkpoints than in Atlanta.

Across the nation, "We are seeing a major increase in firearms that are coming through checkpoints," said Transportation Security Administration spokesman Mark Howell. "We're seeing more people traveling and more people carrying." Last week, a record-breaking 67 firearms were found at checkpoints across the country. In Georgia, a new state law expanded gun rights.

About 80 percent of the guns found at checkpoints are loaded, Howell said.

In Atlanta, passengers caught with guns at security checkpoints are taken to the police precinct at the airport. Those without valid permits can be arrested. Even if the person has a permit and is released, TSA typically imposes civil penalties of up to $7,500.

"Always do your research before you fly with your firearm," including checking carry laws at your destination, Howell said. Otherwise, "it could be a very costly mistake."

How to properly pack a gun while traveling

    • Pack the gun unloaded, in a locked, hard-sided case.
    • The weapon must be in a checked bag, not a carry-on.
    • You must declare the firearm to the airline and fill out a firearms declaration card.
    • Ammunition may be packed separately in the case, in boxes designed to securely carry ammunition.

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About the Author

Business reporter Kelly Yamanouchi covers airlines and the airport.