The TSA Just Found More Guns in Carry-On Luggage Than Ever Before

The 2018 data on airport security may suggest a troubling trend.

A gun confiscated by airport security in Atlanta in May 2018AP

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

The Transportation Security Administration discovered a record 4,239 guns in travelers’ carry-on luggage in 2018, according to annual figures released by the agency Thursday. The majority of the firearms, about 10 per day on average, were loaded. Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, the nation’s second-busiest airport, topped the list for most guns seized with a total of 298. (August was a particularly busy month there, with 32 guns removed.) America’s busiest airport, Chicago’s O’Hare International, didn’t make the top 10 list.

The data may suggest a troubling trend: The total number of travelers that the TSA screened in 2018 increased by 5.5 percent compared to the previous year—but gun discoveries increased by a rate of more than 7 percent in the same period, raising the question of whether more people are packing heat to take on planes (whether knowingly or inadvertently). While the TSA called the recent increase in discoveries “a testament to the coordination and collaboration” of its employees and partners, it didn’t discuss whether the increase may be due to improved screening or a greater number of people bringing guns through the airport.

A CBS News investigation of the TSA data from 2017 revealed that nearly two-thirds of the people responsible for attempting to carry guns onto planes were white men.

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate