Hartsfield-Jackson still No. 1 for guns found by security

TSA continued to detect guns at airport security checkpoints in 2020 amid reduced passenger traffic due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Source: TSA

Credit: Source: TSA

Credit: Source: TSA

TSA continued to detect guns at airport security checkpoints in 2020 amid reduced passenger traffic due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Source: TSA

The coronavirus pandemic drastically reduced the number of passengers flying out of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport last year, but one thing didn’t change: Hundreds of them were still packing firearms.

The airport again ranked No. 1 for guns uncovered at security checkpoints in 2020.

The Transportation Security Administration said its workers came across 220 firearms in Atlanta, the most found at any airport in the nation. The next highest totals were Dallas/Fort Worth International, with 176 firearm catches, followed by Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental, with 126.

Nationally, TSA officers found 3,257 guns on people or in luggage. About 83% of those guns were loaded.

That’s down from 4,432 guns in 2019, including 87% that were loaded.

At Hartsfield-Jackson — which for years has held the title of the world’s busiest airport, though that has yet to be determined for last year — the number of guns found declined 32% in 2020 from 323 in 2019. Passengers counts dropped more than 60% in 2020 as the coronavirus drove a steep decline in air travel.

Nationwide, according to TSA, workers encountered 10 firearms per million passengers, a record high rate that was twice the 2019 rate. In Georgia, firearms were detected at close to twice the national rate in 2020.

“There’s more guns out there,” said TSA spokesman Mark Howell. States with open carry laws tend to have a higher prevalence of gun catches, since more people carry guns with them, he said.

Last year, when airfares dropped along with decreased demand, there were also more inexperienced travelers who might not have been as familiar with the laws and requirements for air travel, Howell said.

Those who are caught with guns at airport security checkpoints risk being charged with a crime and can face civil penalties.

TSA advises travelers to not pack firearms in carry-on bags and to check bags for prohibited items before heading to the airport.

It’s the fifth year in a row that Atlanta has held the No. 1 spot for guns detected by TSA at airport security checkpoints.

While some speculate that the reason is because Hartsfield-Jackson is the world’s busiest, the majority of passengers in Atlanta are only connecting and don’t go through security here.

Number of firearms found by TSA in 2020

Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport: 220

Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport: 176

Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport: 126

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport: 124

Denver International Airport: 104

Nashville International Airport: 94

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport: 87

Orlando International Airport: 79

Las Vegas McCarran International Airport: 72

Salt Lake City International Airport: 71

At other Georgia airports:

Savannah-Hilton Head: 6

Augusta: 2

Columbus: 1

Valdosta: 1

Albany: 1

Macon: 0

Brunswick: 0

Source: TSA