The US Airport Where TSA Confiscated The Most Firearms In 2023

Experienced flyers know that airport security checks are a mandatory part of air travel and that their pockets and bags will be checked for potentially dangerous items. Still, that doesn't seem to stop some travelers from attempting to bring guns aboard U.S. planes. According to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), 6,737 firearms were confiscated at airport security checkpoints in 2023 — and 93% were loaded when they were discovered.

That comes out to 7.8 firearms per million screened individuals, an improvement from 2022 when 8.6 firearms were found per million travelers. An infographic by the agency states that guns were spotted at 265 airports, and some seem to attract more weapon-wielding passengers than others. TSA officers at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the world's busiest airport, found 451 firearms in 2023, more than any other location. This isn't the first time the Georgia travel hub had confiscated such a high number of guns. TSA found 448 firearms at Atlanta's checkpoints in 2022 and a whopping 507 in 2021.

Other airports with a high number of seized guns

While firearms are found in airport screenings all over the U.S., the cities with the most — like Atlanta — tend to be located in Southern states. The airport with the second-highest number of firearms in 2023 was Texas' Dallas Fort Worth, with 378 guns, followed by the state's George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, which recorded 311.

To the west, 235 firearms were seized in Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport throughout the year, and Nashville International Airport rounded out the top five with 188 weapons. Other airports noted by TSA as having a high number of firearm discoveries in 2023 include Denver International Airport (178), Orlando International Airport (164), Tampa International Airport (144), Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (135), and Dallas Love Field Airport (125).

These findings largely mirror the data available on gun ownership in the U.S. According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (via CBS News), Texas was the state with the highest number of gun licenses in 2021, followed by Florida. Georgia ranked in the sixth spot on the list.

Can you travel with firearms?

Despite thousands of travelers' attempts, firearms are prohibited in carry-on items, according to TSA. If you're looking to transport a gun during your domestic flight, you must place it in a hard-sided container in your checked baggage. Moreover, it must be locked and unloaded. Replica guns, frames, receivers, and 3D-printed guns are also forbidden in carry-on luggage.

Passengers who are caught with firearms during airport screenings will be removed from the security checkpoint and brought to law enforcement along with their weapon (TSA doesn't keep the guns detected during searches). Depending on your state, you could be arrested and forced to pay a hefty TSA fine. You may also be flagged during future airport screenings.

Even if you store your gun safely in a checked bag, it might not be allowed at your destination, particularly if you're traveling abroad. Bringing a weapon into a country where it's banned could get you into serious trouble with the local authorities. Besides having your firearm confiscated, you could also face jail time or be barred from ever entering the country again. When in doubt, research the laws of your destination or call the country's embassy before packing your bags.