Travel | January 3, 2022 11:13 am

A Whole Lot of People Tried Bringing Guns on Planes in 2021

A new record for firearms stopped by security had been set by October

A group of people with luggage at an airport. The Transportation Security Administration says a record number of people tried bringing guns on planes in 2021.
Last year was a strange one for air travel in many ways.

The Transportation Security Administration’s policies are pretty clear when it comes to guns and air travel. “You may transport unloaded firearms in a locked hard-sided container as checked baggage only,” the agency’s guidelines state. “Declare the firearm and/or ammunition to the airline when checking your bag at the ticket counter.” Seems very straightforward, without any wiggle room. You’d think so, anyway.

Unfortunately, that didn’t stop a lot of people from trying to bring guns on board planes in their carry-on bags last year. A report at The Points Guy noted that a 20-year record for guns found at TSA checkpoints had been set by October 2021.

Specifically, 4,495 passengers had been stopped due to firearms as of October 3 of last year. The previous record was set in 2019, with 4,432 passengers stopped — but that was for the entire year. It’s not hard to imagine that the year-end tally for 2021 would be even higher, given the number of people attempting to travel for the holidays; The Points Guy’s article confirms this, noting that the total had risen to 5,700 firearms stopped as of December 21.

Even more alarmingly, about 85% of the firearms in question were loaded, according to data provided to The Points Guy by the TSA.

There isn’t one specific reason cited for why so many guns were found at checkpoints this year, though the article cites a group of factors. Among them are that an increasing number of Americans are buying guns, which suggests that some of the people stopped may have just not known about the TSA’s policies.

That’s not necessarily the most reassuring answer, but it does seem preferable to several alternatives. One hopes that these travelers will get a handle on the approved ways to pack their guns the next time they fly, if they feel that they have to travel with their firearm at all.