WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — Out of the record-breaking 6,542 guns detected at airport security checkpoints nationwide last year, nearly 90 of them were confiscated right here in the DMV.
The final numbers from 2022 are out, and they paint a bleak picture for airports across America: since 2008, the number of firearms swiped at TSA checkpoints has consistently climbed — going from 926 in 2008, to a staggering 6,542 in 2022.
And the DMV’s three major commercial airports are not immune to the national trend.
Last year, 35 guns — many of which were loaded — were caught at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI). At Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA), the number was 29. And at Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD), 25 handguns went through x-ray machines in 2022.
That’s a total of 89 regionwide.
“The vast majority of people tell us that they forgot they had their firearm with them,” said Lisa Farbstein, a spokesperson with the TSA.
“Interestingly enough across the country, 88% of those guns were loaded. And so we’re basically hearing people tell us they forgot they had their loaded firearm with them. I’m pretty sure if you asked them where their cell phone was, where their keys were, where their wallet was, they would know where those items are. They just don’t seem to know where their loaded gun is. It is baffling,” Farbstein said.
Fliers face a long list of consequences if they’re caught in this situation, including federal civil penalties of up to $15,000. Not to mention, if they’re part of the convenient TSA PreCheck program and are caught with a gun, they lose those benefits.
It also holds up the line for the rest of the travelers. Farbstein said that when a gun is detected in the x-ray machine, that entire security line is halted, and the firearm stays exactly where it is until a police officer comes to remove it from the belt.
In many cases, the passenger with the gun is still allowed to fly after they are cited and the gun is confiscated. Other passengers, though, are arrested on the spot.
Out of 262 airport checkpoints that detected guns nationwide last year, none were as busy as Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), which topped the list with 448 guns caught by TSA.