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TSA continues collecting guns at record rates even during a pandemic

Published: Dec. 18, 2020 at 6:41 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Even with holiday travel expected to decrease by around 30% this year, the Transportation Security Administration said it’s confiscated guns from travelers at a higher rate.

A spokesperson for the TSA told our KCRG-TV9 i9 Investigative Unit the federal agency is collecting 15 guns per 100,000 passengers, three times the number of guns per passenger, compared to last year.

Guns Per 100,000 passenger from 2019 to 2020
Guns Per 100,000 passenger from 2019 to 2020(None)

The number of firearms the TSA discovered every year has increased since 2009. In 2019, 87% percent of firearms detected at U.S. checkpoints last year were loaded.

TSA discovered more guns every year since 2019
TSA discovered more guns every year since 2019(TSA)

Lisa Fabstein, who is a spokesperson for TSA, said she doesn’t know about the reason for the increase. But, told us the passengers who are flying during the pandemic might not know the proper protocols.

“The travelers we’re seeing during the pandemic are not the same travelers we saw prior to the pandemic,” she said. “And what I mean by that is that we are not seeing the business traveler, we’re not seeing the people who are familiar with the protocols or enrolled in TSA precheck.”

She said the people traveling currently are new travelers who might not be aware of the protocols.

In 2019, firearms were caught at 278 airport checkpoints nationwide according to the TSA. The top five airports where TSA officers detected guns at checkpoints in 2019 were: Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International with 323; Dallas/Fort Worth International with 217; Denver International with 140; George Bush Intercontinental with 138; and Phoenix Sky Harbor International with 132.

TSA agents at the Eastern Iowa Airport collected five guns in 2019 and three guns in 2020. However, there are less passengers in 2020 and the numbers might not follow the national trend because of the small sample size.

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