Denver among the highest cities in the U.S. for firearms discovered by TSA in 2020

While airline travel was down in 2020 across the world mostly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, firearms caught at Denver International Airport’s carry-on screenings remained high.

DIA ranked fifth nationally for the number of firearm discoveries by Transportation Security Administration officers. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport topped the list with 220 firearm finds, followed by Dallas Fort Worth International Airport with 176; Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport with 126 and Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport with 124.

104 firearms in travelers’ carry-on luggage in total were discovered in 2020 at DIA. TSA screened approximately 10.6 million departing travelers at DIA in 2020, which is down about 45% of the total number screened in 2019.

Statistics show that travelers flying out of Denver brought firearms in carry-on luggage at a rate of 9.8 guns discovered per million travelers screened, slightly less than the national average. In 2019, the rate at DIA was six firearms discovered per million passengers screened.

Nationally, TSA screened approximately 324 million travelers at airports last year, down 39% from about 824 million screened in 2019. Despite decreased passenger loads in 2020 due to the global pandemic, TSA officers across the country discovered firearms in carry-on luggage at a rate twice what it was in 2019 and the highest rate since the agency’s inception.

In 2020, TSA detected about 10 firearms per million passengers screened compared to five guns per million passengers screened in 2019. Denver’s mark dipped below the national average even with a high volume in 2020.

Travelers face civil penalties for bringing firearms to the security checkpoint, and TSA says it evaluates each firearm incident on a case-by-case basis. Firearms can be transported on a commercial aircraft only if they are unloaded, packed in a locked, hard-sided case and placed in checked baggage.

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