Denver, CO

DIA ranks 6th nationally for firearms found in carry-on bags

Steven Bonifazi

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A traveler undergoes an enhanced pat down by a Transportation Security Administration agent at the Denver International Airport.(John Moore/Getty Images)

By Steven Bonifazi / NewsBreak Denver

(DENVER, Colo.) Denver International Airport ranked sixth in the United States in 2021 after Transportation Security Administration officers found 141 firearms in passengers’ carry-on luggage.

That’s a new record for firearms found at Denver’s three security checkpoints, TSA said in a news release. TSA discovered the weapons during X-ray screenings.

Nationally, TSA discovered 5,972 weapons at 268 airports in 2021.

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A total of 5,972 firearms were discovered in carry-on bags at TSA checkpoints across the U.S. in 2021.(Infographic courtesy of the Transportation Security Administration)

Finding weapons isn’t new. TSA typically confiscates thousands of firearms each year. 

  • 2018: 4,239
  • 2019: 4,432
  • 2020: 3,257
  • 2021: 5,972

Denver’s numbers routinely place the airport in the top 10 for discovered weapons.

  • 2018: 126
  • 2019: 140
  • 2020: 104
  • 2021: 141

Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport ranked first nationally, with 507 firearms found, marking the most ever recorded at any airport since TSA started screenings in 2001 after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Top airports for found weapons are as follows:

  1. Atlanta: 507
  2. Dallas Fort Worth International Airport: 317
  3. George Bush Intercontinental Airport Houston: 245
  4. Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport: 196
  5. Nashville International Airport: 163
“As the data suggests, travelers bringing firearms in carry-on luggage is not new and we have now reached an unacceptable level of carelessness by gun owners. Simply stated, one gun in carry-on luggage is one too many,” said TSA Federal Security Director for Colorado Larry Nau in a press release Tuesday.
“We are asking all gun owners to take a few minutes to reacquaint yourself with the procedures for traveling with firearms and the importance of being aware of everything you transport in your carry-on luggage before you come to the airport."

TSA screened roughly 585 million passengers and crew in 2021. At Denver’s airport, TSA screened nearly 18.3 million travelers and crew. That makes Denver the sixth busiest for TSA screening. The 2021 numbers mark a 72% increase from 2020 passenger numbers, which were depressed by the pandemic.

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Air travelers move through a main security checkpoint at the Denver International Airport on November 22, 2010 in Denver, Colorado.(John Moore/Getty Images)

Under TSA regulations, travelers can only bring guns on planes if unloaded, stored in a locked and hard-sided case and put in checked baggage. Passengers with weapons and ammunition in their checked bags must announce that information at the airline ticket counter during check-in.

No passengers are allowed to bring guns on planes.

“Even if a traveler has a concealed weapons permit, firearms are never permitted in carry-on luggage. TSA officers will continue to screen for weapons and other potential security threats to ensure those item do not make it into the cabin of an aircraft,” Nau said.

For more information regarding traveling with firearms and ammunition, click here.

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