Hartsfield-Jackson has most firearms caught at TSA checkpoints

Jan 30, 2018
TSA personnel demonstrate how they respond to prohibited items at security checkpoints in a demonstration session for the press using airport employees playing the part of passengers. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM

A record 245 guns were seized at security checkpoints at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport last year — and 222 of those guns were loaded.

That again put the Atlanta airport in the No. 1 position in the nation for the number of guns caught at airport security checkpoints.

While Hartsfield-Jackson handles the most passengers in the world, it does not have the most passengers going through security checkpoints. Los Angeles International, New York’s JFK, Chicago’s O’Hare, San Francisco International each process more passengers through security checkpoints than Atlanta does.

That’s because the majority of passengers at the Atlanta airport are just passing through and connecting, and they go through security at other airports.

But Hartsfield-Jackson still had the most guns caught at security checkpoints of any U.S. airport. In August alone, 31 guns were found at Hartsfield-Jackson — an average of one a day.

Nationally, a record 3,957 guns were discovered in carry-on bags at airport security checkpoints, up 16.7 percent year-over-year. About 84 percent of the firearms were loaded.

According to officials, many travelers caught with a firearm at the checkpoint say they forgot they had it in their bag.

Travelers caught with guns at the checkpoints at Hartsfield-Jackson could face federal charges, as well as TSA civil penalties of up to $13,066.

Some of the other types of weapons caught at checkpoints across the country are “artfully concealed,” including a brush dagger, a knife inside a stick of deodorant, a lipstick knife, a stun cane and a sword cane, according to TSA.