Transportation Security Administration officers have confiscated 6,301 firearms from airport passengers so far in 2022 – the highest number recorded since the agency’s inception. Of those guns taken at airport security checkpoints, 88% were loaded, the agency announced Friday.  

The TSA said that it expects to have confiscated about 6,600 firearms by the end of year, which would mark a 10.5% increase from the 5,972 firearms seized in 2021, which was also a record. 

The agency also reported Friday that it was raising the maximum civil penalty for a firearms violation from $13,910 to $14,950. 

The top 5 airports for firearm stops so far this year, according to TSA, were: 

  1. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport – 438
  2. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport – 371
  3. Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport – 286
  4. Nashville International Airport – 203
  5. Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport – 184

Nashville had the highest rate of firearm confiscation per capita, according to a TSA spokesperson. 

In April, Rep. Madison Cawthorn was cited for attempting to bring a gun through security at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport in North Carolina, according to local police. Cawthorn admitted the firearm was his and cooperated with officers, police said. He was issued a citation for possession of a dangerous weapon on city property. 

According to TSA policy, individuals toting either loaded firearms – or unloaded firearms with accessible ammunition – can face fines starting at $3,000, plus a criminal referral to law enforcement. Those with “aggravating circumstances,” including a history of carrying loaded weapons into security checkpoints, could be forced to shell out the maximum fine. 

TSA will grant civil penalty action only after completing an investigation. If passengers violate state laws, TSA refers cases to local authorities. 

TSA also revokes its PreCheck eligibility for at least five years for passengers caught with a firearm, and routinely conducts “enhanced screening” for those passengers to ensure no other threats are present.

Passengers who wish to transport firearms are instructed to follow proper packing guidance for firearms in checked baggage, and declare them to their airline at check-in. 

“I applaud the work of our Transportation Security Officers who do an excellent job of preventing firearms from getting into the secure area of airports, and onboard aircraft,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske in a statement, Friday. “Firearms are prohibited in carry-on bags at the checkpoint and onboard aircraft. When a passenger brings a firearm to the checkpoint, this consumes significant security resources and poses a potential threat to transportation security, in addition to being very costly for the passenger.” 

Though travel numbers have not rebounded to pre-pandemic levels, TSA screened more than 2.5 million individuals nationwide on Nov. 27, the Sunday after Thanksgiving, marking the highest checkpoint volume since the start of the pandemic.