Record Amount of Firearms Intercepted at a Colorado Airport in 2022
At airport security checkpoints across the country, it's common for carry-on luggage to get flagged for further searching. Upon opening up a bag, TSA agents find all sorts of items that passengers are both permitted and prohibited from bringing aboard a flight.
Many times, an object that appears to look strange on screen is actually completely harmless. This could be something as small as a mirror that's mistakenly identified as a weapon. Passengers bringing large amounts of liquid in an un-checked bag are also likely to have their belongings searched if taken through security.
But it's because of these thorough and mandated security checks that thousands of dangerous items are also confiscated from travelers on an annual basis.
In 2022, a total of 6,542 guns were intercepted at U.S. airport security checkpoints - an average of about 18 weapons per day. Rising from 5,972 firearms in 2021, the Sentinel reports that last year, airports throughout the country experienced an all-time high as far as guns seized during security screenings go.
This exploding trend tends to happen at bigger airports, and also in areas with laws that legally allow residents to carry a firearm. As one of the largest travel hubs in the country, Denver International Airport is no exception to this. According to Westword, DIA ranked seventh in the nation for the number of firearm discoveries by TSA last year.
Furthermore, from 2021 to 2022, DIA saw a 10 percent increase in firearms seized. TSA agents at Denver's three security checkpoints recovered a total of 156 guns from people's carry-on bags last year. This was a record high for most firearms found at DIA security during X-ray luggage screenings. Shockingly, 80 percent of the firearms discovered at DIA in 2022 were loaded.
Oftentimes, it's just carelessness, and travelers either forgot or unintentionally left a weapon at the bottom of their bag.
Whether it was intentionally placed there or not, when a firearm is discovered in someone's bag, the situation is evaluated by TSA on a case-by-case basis. If the gun is loaded, the traveler is subject to criminal charges. Repercussions may be more extreme if the weapon is found on the passenger themselves.
Depending on state and local laws, the person may be arrested and have the gun confiscated. However, in certain scenarios, the traveler is allowed to give the gun to a friend or family member who is not accompanying them on the trip. If the gun is not loaded, the passenger has the option to surrender it to TSA and move on.
On the flip side, loaded firearms are seized as evidence and the owner is placed into custody. The traveler is then transported to the DIA Police Substation for processing. If no additional violations are found, the individual is released and will face the legal process later on in court, which typically results in a hefty fine.
Unloaded guns are allowed to be packed in checked bags, so long as the passenger follows all of the proper procedures prior to flying. This includes removing the magazine ad and storing any ammunition in its original packaging. For additional safety measures, the firearm must be in a hard-sided case that locks.
The next time you plan on traveling by plane, do yourself a favor and fully inspect your carry-on before going through security.