'Shocking' Record Number Of Guns Found At BWI Airport: TSA


TSA officers at BWI Airport set a record for the number of guns caught in a year — nearly 40 — with more than two months left in 2023. (Jacob Baumgart/Patch)

Patch Regional Manager Deb Belt wrote this story.

BALTIMORE, MD — Security officers at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport have seized a record number of guns in one year — nearly 40 — with more than two months left in 2023.

Most recently, TSA officers at BWI Airport caught a traveler with a loaded handgun at one of the checkpoints on Oct. 9, bringing the total number captured so far this year to a record-setting 36 guns.

The previous record of 35 guns caught in a year was set in 2022.

"It's shocking to see that we have already surpassed the previous high number of guns caught and we are still in early October," said Grant Goodlett, TSA's deputy federal security director for Maryland, in a statement. "There is absolutely no excuse for bringing a gun to our checkpoints because you certainly can't carry it onto your flight."

Passengers are allowed to travel with firearms only in checked baggage if they are unloaded and packed in a hard-sided locked case. Then the locked case should be taken to the airline check-in counter to be declared.

TSA has details online that explain how to properly travel with a firearm.

Bringing a gun to an airport checkpoint carries a federal civil penalty because TSA reserves the right to issue a civil penalty to travelers who have guns and gun parts with them at a checkpoint. Civil fines for bringing a gun into a checkpoint can reach $14,950 per violation per person., depending on mitigating circumstances.

The ban on guns on airplanes applies to travelers with or without concealed gun carry permits, as well as passengers who are enrolled in the TSA PreCheck program, who will lose their TSA PreCheck privileges if they bring a gun to a checkpoint.

Fines for violations start at $390 and increase from there; a complete list of civil penalties is posted online.

When a gun is detected in the checkpoint X-ray unit, the conveyor belt is stopped and the Maryland Transportation Authority Police are notified to remove the carry-on bag from the X-ray unit. Police determine whether a traveler is arrested or issued a criminal citation.

Meanwhile, the remaining passengers in the checkpoint lane either wait for the issue to be resolved or they are shifted to another checkpoint lane, thus delaying dozens of passengers from getting to their gate, the TSA said in a news release.

TSA firearms catches at airport checkpoints at BWI Airport from 2017 to 2023

  • 2016: 21
  • 2017: 26
  • 2018: 22
  • 2019: 27
  • 2020: 13
  • 2021: 23
  • 2022: 35
  • 2023: 36 as of Oct. 9

Last year, 6,542 firearms were caught at airport security checkpoints nationwide. During the first nine months of 2023, TSA officers detected more than 5,000 guns at checkpoints across the country and the agency is on track to surpass the record-setting number of guns caught nationwide in 2022.

Unsure if an item should be packed in a carry-on bag, checked bag, either or neither? Download the free myTSA app, which has a "What can I bring?" feature that allows fliers to type in the item to find out if it can be brought on a plane.

Or ask on Twitter or Facebook Messenger at @AskTSA. Travelers may send a question by texting "Travel" to AskTSA (275-872).

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