A record of 2,653 firearms seized at 236 US airports: TSA

21 January 2016 (Last Updated January 21st, 2016 18:30)

Officers of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) seized a record number of 2,653 firearms in carry-on bags at airport security checkpoints across the US.

Officers of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) seized a record number of 2,653 firearms in carry-on bags at airport security checkpoints across the US.

Of the 2,653 firearms, 83% or 2,198 were loaded.

The firearms intercepted in 2015 shows a sharp rise of 20% than in 2014, during which 2,212 firearms were found in carry-on bags.

The 2,653 firearms seized last year were found at 236 airports, 12 more than in 2014.

"The transport of firearms by commercial air in carry-on bags represents a threat to the safety and security of air travellers."

TSA Administrator Peter V. Neffenger said: "The transport of firearms by commercial air in carry-on bags represents a threat to the safety and security of air travellers.

"Through increased training in detection methods, our officers are becoming more adept at intercepting these prohibited items.

The discoveries show a steady increase from 660 guns found in 2005 to 1,123 in 2010.

The five airports that record the highest number of firearm discoveries in 2015 include Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (153), Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (144), Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport (100), Denver International Airport (90), and Phoenix Sky Harbour International Airport (73).

Passengers who bring firearms to the airport face criminal charges from law enforcement and civil penalties from TSA.

Travellers are allowed to take weapons, including firearms, firearm parts and ammunition only in their checked baggage and not in their hand bags.

The weapons transported in checked bags must be unloaded, properly packed and declared to the transporting airline.

Passengers who intend to carry firearms while travelling have to inform authorities about destination state, and any state where they may have a connecting flight.

TSA said it has checked over 708 million passengers last year, which is about 1.9 million passengers per day and 40.7 million more than in 2014.

It has also screened over 432 million checked bags, more than 1.6 billion carry-on bags and 12.9 million airport employees.