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Handguns intercepted at NYC-area airports increased in 2021

But they're still a drop in the bucket compared to nationwide figures

January 18, 2022 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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The number of handguns caught by Transportation Security Administration officers in New York City-area airport checkpoints in 2021 increased significantly over the number of guns intercepted in 2020.

Still, the number intercepted here was a very small amount compared to other airports nationwide.

All in all, 26 handguns were discovered in 2021 at New York City-area airport checkpoints, up from 17 guns in 2020. Each of the firearms was discovered during routine screening of carry-on baggage at airport checkpoints, according to the TSA.

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At JFK International Airport, during the past five years, the number of guns discovered from six in 2017 to nine in 2021. In 2020, only two handguns were intercepted there.

At Newark Liberty International Airport, the number increased from six in 2017 to 12 in 2021, with 11 handguns discovered there in 2020.

TSA officers detected this handgun at one of the security checkpoints at Newark Liberty International Airport in March 2021. TSA photo

Only LaGuardia Airport had an overall decrease in the number of handguns discovered by agents, from six in 2017 to four in 2021.

All in all, the increase in the number of guns found by TSA agents at major airports is much less than the figures for the U.S. as a whole. 

Nationwide, TSA officers detected 5,972 firearms at airport security checkpoints in 2021. It was a significant increase from the 3,257 detected in 2020 and a spike from the 4,432 detected in 2019 (pre-pandemic). The rate of guns caught at checkpoints nationwide came to of 10.2 firearms per million passengers in 2021. 

Furthermore, of the handguns caught in 2021, approximately 86 percent were loaded, according to the transportation security agency.

The top five airports for the number of guns intercepted last year were all in the South or West: Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, with 507 guns captured; Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, with 317; Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport, with 245; Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, with 196; and Nashville International Airport, with 163.

While firearms laws vary from state to state, according to the TSA, passengers are generally permitted to travel with firearms in checked baggage if they are unloaded, locked and packed separately from ammunition. Ammunition must be in its original box. 

Then, the case with the firearms must be brought to the check-in counter and the airline representative informed that the passenger wants to travel with the gun. If approved, baggage containing firearms is placed in the belly of the aircraft so nobody has access to it during the flight.


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