Record number of handguns detected at airports in 2021

Throughout 2021, the Transportation Security Administration has shared news of incident after incident of guns being detected at airport security checkpoints. And on Tuesday, it shared the tally for the year around D.C., which set a record.

At the area’s three major airports, 72 handguns were detected at checkpoints. That’s up from 30 in 2020 and up from 60 in 2019, before the pandemic affected the region.

Most (30) were found at Reagan National Airport; 23 were detected at BWI Marshall Airport, and 19 were found at Dulles International Airport.

A similar dynamic played out nationwide. TSA officers detected 5,972 firearms in 2021, up from 3,257 in 2020 and 4,432 in 2019.

TSA said about 86% of the guns detected last year were loaded.

Despite these record numbers for D.C. airports, they were nowhere near the top 10 airports in terms of number of incidents for 2021. Those include Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (No. 1 with 507 guns detected), Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (No. 2 with 317) and George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston (No. 3 with 245).

TSA reminded travelers Tuesday that firearms can’t be carried onto an airplane — even with a concealed weapon permit. Those who attempt to are subject to criminal charges from law enforcement and civil penalties from TSA.

But travelers with proper firearm permits can travel legally with their guns in checked bags if they follow a few guidelines, which are posted on the TSA website.

Jack Pointer

Jack contributes to WTOP.com when he's not working as the afternoon/evening radio writer.

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