The TSA Just Found More Guns in Carry-On Luggage Than Ever Before

The 2018 data on airport security may suggest a troubling trend.

A gun confiscated by airport security in Atlanta in May 2018AP

The Transportation Security Administration discovered a record 4,239 guns in travelers’ carry-on luggage in 2018, according to annual figures released by the agency Thursday. The majority of the firearms, about 10 per day on average, were loaded. Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, the nation’s second-busiest airport, topped the list for most guns seized with a total of 298. (August was a particularly busy month there, with 32 guns removed.) America’s busiest airport, Chicago’s O’Hare International, didn’t make the top 10 list.

The data may suggest a troubling trend: The total number of travelers that the TSA screened in 2018 increased by 5.5 percent compared to the previous year—but gun discoveries increased by a rate of more than 7 percent in the same period, raising the question of whether more people are packing heat to take on planes (whether knowingly or inadvertently). While the TSA called the recent increase in discoveries “a testament to the coordination and collaboration” of its employees and partners, it didn’t discuss whether the increase may be due to improved screening or a greater number of people bringing guns through the airport.

A CBS News investigation of the TSA data from 2017 revealed that nearly two-thirds of the people responsible for attempting to carry guns onto planes were white men.

MORE HARD-HITTING JOURNALISM

In 2014, before Donald Trump announced his run for president, we knew we had to do something different to address the fundamental challenge facing journalism: how hard-hitting reporting that can hold the powerful accountable can survive as the bottom falls out of the news business.

Being a nonprofit, we started planning The Moment for Mother Jones, a special campaign to raise $25 million for key investments to make Mother Jones the strongest watchdog it can be. Five years later, readers have stepped up and contributed an astonishing $23 million in gifts and future pledges. This is an incredible statement from the Mother Jones community in the face of huge threats—both economic and political—against the free press.

Read more about The Moment and see what we've been able to accomplish thanks to readers' incredible generosity so far, and please join them today. Your gift will be matched dollar for dollar, up to $500,000 total, during this critical moment for journalism.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.