Rate of guns seized at airport checkpoints jumped in 2020 despite fewer travelers

New York News
Buffalo airport gun

This loaded handgun was detected by a TSA officer at Buffalo Niagara International Airport in December 2020. (TSA)

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10/AP) – Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers stopped 12 handguns at Upstate New York airport security checkpoints in 2020, just one less than the 13 caught in 2019.  However, there was a dramatic decrease of passengers who used these airports due to the pandemic – a drop of approximately 65%.

Each of the firearms were discovered by TSA officers during the routine screening of carry-on property at airport security checkpoints.

Airport201520162017201820192020
Buffalo Niagara International Airport (BUF)26375
Syracuse Hancock International Airport (SYR)223254
Greater Rochester International Airport (ROC)504221
Albany International Airport (ALB)126312
Ithaca Tompkins International Airport (ITH)00000
Elmira Corning Regional Airport (ELM)000010
Totals101016141312
TSA firearms catches at checkpoints in airports in the Upstate New York region, 2015 to 2020 (TSA)

Throughout the country, security screeners confiscated guns at airport checkpoints at a record pace last year despite the steep plunge in travelers.

TSA said Tuesday that screeners found 3,257 firearms on passengers or in their carry-on bags in 2020, or about 10 for every million travelers. About 83% of the guns were loaded.

(Transportation Security Administration)

The rate was double that in 2019, when screeners found 5 guns for every million passengers. However, with 500 million more travelers screened in 2019, TSA officers found a record 4,432 guns that year.

Screeners found 220 guns at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, followed by 176 at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, 126 at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, 126 at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor International Airport, and 104 at Denver International Airport.

Federal law prohibits passengers other than certain law enforcement officers from bringing guns or ammunition into the cabin. Federal law allows passengers to put guns in checked bags that go into the cargo hold if they are unloaded and in a locked case.

Airlines don’t have to permit guns even in checked bags. All leading U.S. carriers temporarily banned guns in checked bags on flights to Washington, D.C.-area airports for a week after the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump. Those bans lapsed last weekend, three days after the inauguration of President Joe Biden.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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