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Austin's airport confiscated a record number of guns in 2022

A gun is displayed in a hard-sided case.
Patricia Lim
After a record year of firearm confiscations, TSA officials in Austin are reminding the public that guns cannot be taken through airport security checkpoints.

Security found 150 firearms in travelers' carry-on luggage at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport in 2022, a new ABIA record, according to the Transportation Security Administration.

The firearms were detected during routine X-ray screenings of carry-on items at security checkpoints. Put another way, that means one firearm was detected for every 64,063 travelers screened at Austin's airport last year.

TSA releases data annually on firearm discoveries at U.S. airports and says 2022 was a record year, with 6,542 firearms found at security screenings at airports nationwide. Austin's airport was among the 10 airports with the highest number of firearms. Dallas-Fort Worth's and Houston's airports were in the top five.

“In states where we have more liberal gun laws like Texas, people leave their homes, and they grab their keys, their wallet and their gun," said Patricia Mancha, a TSA spokesperson. "And so, 'I'm going to the airport.' It's the same thing.”

If a person is caught with a firearm in their carry-on, local police are called and a fine of up to $15,000 could be administered.

TSA agents recommend that people looking to travel with a firearm follow their guidelines to avoid having a firearm confiscated and seeing massive fines.

Start off by checking with your airline to see if they have specific rules. All airlines require that people declare a firearm before traveling with it. Once you declare it, store it in a locked, hard-sided container in checked baggage — not in your carry-on.

It’s not just firearms that need to be checked. Anything that could be used as a weapon — a knife, scissors, a baton, a bowling pin (yes, a bowling pin) — should all be stored in checked baggage and not in a carry-on.

TSA officials at Austin's airport last year also confiscated weapons that were disguised as everyday objects, such as credit cards, lipsticks and umbrellas. They also found things that could be used as weapons, like pepper spray.

Mancha said TSA hears all types of excuses from people who bring illegal items in their carry-ons, like that they forgot something was in their bag because they haven't used that bag in a while or that someone else packed the bag for them.

"'My 3-year-old packed my bag.' That's an excuse we've actually heard for a bag with a gun in it," she said. "We just remind people, if you're a responsible gun owner, you should know where your gun is at all times.”

TSA agents say that if you're unsure about what you can bring on a plane, visit the TSA’s website and social media platforms before traveling.

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Haya Panjwani is a general assignment reporter, with a focus on Travis County. Got a tip? Email her at Follow her on Twitter @hayapanjw.
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