HOUSTON - A record number of firearms were discovered inside carry-on luggage by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in 2021.
Last year, the TSA found nearly 6,000 guns in carry-on bags. Most guns were located in bags at the Atlanta airport, followed by Dallas Fort Worth, and Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH).
"We’ve seen a decline in the number of passengers, yet we continue to see a steep increase in the number of guns," said Patricia Mancha, a TSA spokesperson. "We have found more weapons, or more guns, in passenger carry-on bags than any other year in TSA history."
Both of Houston’s airports have noticed an increase in the number of firearms discovered in carry-on bags over the last four years. At IAH in 2021, the TSA has found more than 100% more firearms at screening checkpoints compared to 2018.
"The number one excuse we get from passengers when a gun is found in their luggage is [they] forgot it was in [their] bag," said Mancha. "Whoever brings a gun to a checkpoint faces fines up to $14,000, suspension from TSA PreCheck, and very likely a missed flight."
Tensions have been high on airplanes since the pandemic. In 2021, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reported nearly 6,000 cases of unruly passengers.
The TSA provided photos of prohibited items passengers tried carrying through security checkpoints. Among the items were knives, a throwing star, sparklers, brass knuckles, and loaded guns.
"That’s ridiculous," said Benny Andrews, a traveler. "That shouldn’t go down. I mean, you could kill someone with these things."
The TSA says they’re busy trying to keep travelers safe.
"Double-check your bag," said Mancha. "Before you start packing, empty it out so you know what’s in your bag."