It’s been more than 50 years since the iconic slogan “Fly the Friendly Skies” was first used to advertise the appeal and allure of airline travel. But those skies seem a bit less friendly these days with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) highlighting last week that its officers at North Carolina airports discovered a total of 254 firearms in travelers’ carry-on luggage last year.
Several airports in our state saw their gun confiscation numbers doubling or tripling from what they were in 2020. And in the majority of cases, the firearms were loaded.
TSA Regional Spokesperson Mark Howell said in states with gun-friendly laws these numbers tend to be higher, as gun owners often forget they have their weapon with them until they are at a TSA checkpoint.
While firearms can be transported on commercial aircraft, that’s only if they are unloaded, packed in a locked, hard-sided case and then placed in a checked bag. Ammunition is prohibited in carry-on baggage.
This week’s Monday numbers column takes a closer look at the increasing rate of guns found in carry-ons at our airports.
5,972 — Total number of firearms found in passengers’ carry-on luggage nationwide in 2021
254 — Total number of guns found in the carry-on luggage of travelers at North Carolina airports last year
61,275 — For every 61,275 passengers screened in North Carolina last year a firearm was detected
33 — Number of firearms found in the carry-on luggage of travelers at Raleigh-Durham International (RDU) in 2020
100 — Number of firearms found in the luggage of travelers at RDU in 2021
55 — Number of firearms found in the carry-on luggage of travelers at Charlotte Douglas International (CLT) in 2020
106 -— Number of firearms found in the carry-on luggage of travelers at CLT in 2021
6 — Number of guns found in carry on luggage at Piedmont Triad Int’l (GSO) in 2020
12 — Number of guns found in carry-on luggage at GSO in 2021
5 — Number of guns found at Asheville Regional (AVL) in 2020
15 — Number of guns found in carry-on luggage at AVL in 2021
11– Number of months since Congressman Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) attempted to board a plane when TSA agents discovered an unloaded Glock in his carry-on along with a loaded magazine (Source: Asheville Citizen-Times)
0 — Number of firearms discovered by TSA screeners at Pitt-Greenville Airport (PGV), the only airport in NC where none were found 2020 or in 2021
1 — Ranking among all U.S. airports for Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, in number of gun confiscations in 2021 with 507 guns discovered in carry-on bags
2 — Ranking of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), with 317 guns confiscated
3 — Ranking of Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), with 245 guns caught by TSA at checkpoints
$2,000 – $3,000 — Penalty for passengers caught with an unloaded gun
$4,000 – $5,000 — Penalty for having a loaded gun in a carry-on bag
80-90 — Percentage of guns that were loaded last year according to the TSA
For more on TSA firearm regulations, click here.