ATLANTA (AP) — Federal officials are reporting a spike in firearm seizures at Atlanta's international airport — part of a record year for the number of guns detected at airport security checkpoints.
The Transportation Security Administration says it seized 391 firearms at Hartsfield-Jackson airport in the first nine months of 2021. That’s up from 220 last year when passenger counts were down significantly because of the pandemic. But it's also a big jump from 2019, when 323 firearms were seized in Atlanta.
Across the nation, the TSA said it had stopped 4,495 airline passengers from carrying firearms onto their flights by Oct. 3 of this year, surpassing the previous record of 4,432 firearms caught at checkpoints in all of 2019.
The agency announced the 2021 figures earlier this month in a news release and noted the record comes despite a continued dip in passengers because of the pandemic. The release did not offer an explanation or theory about the spike in gun seizures.
Hartsfield-Jackson is one of the nation's busiest airports, though other U.S. airports rival its passenger screening numbers. Dallas Forth Worth International Airport was second on the TSA's list, with 232 firearms seized by Oct. 3.
Passengers caught with firearms at airport checkpoints face a civil penalty. The TSA says firearms may be allowed in checked baggage when they are unloaded and packed in a locked, hard-sided case.