KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Despite a large decrease in air travel, the number of firearm discoveries in carry-on luggage at state airports was down only slightly compared to 2019.
The Transportation Security Administration announced Tuesday the total number of firearms brought to security checkpoints at the five largest airports in Tennessee. In all 162 firearms were found at the five state airports in 2020, the same number that was found in 2018. That is only 19 less than the number of firearms found in 2019.
Despite the slight decline, the rate of firearm discoveries at state airports was nearly triple the national average.
TSA screened approximately 5.68 million departing travelers at the five commercial Tennessee airports in 2020, about 44% of the total number screened in 2019. Nationwide, a firearm was detected for every 99,583 passengers screened. In Tennessee, the rate was one firearm discovered per every 35,104 passenger screened.
Three airports, Nashville International, McGhee Tyson and Tri-Cities, saw a decrease in the number of firearms brought by passengers in carry-on luggage while Memphis International and Chattanooga Metropolitan saw a slight increase.
|BNA — Nashville International||86||97||94|
|MEM — Memphis International||47||46||48|
|TYS — McGhee Tyson||16||26||7|
|CHA — Chattanooga Metropolitan||9||9||11|
|TRI — Tri-Cities||4||3||2|
Seven firearms were found at McGhee Tyson in 2020, compared to 26 in 2019.
Nashville International was among the top 10 airports nationwide where TSA officers detected guns at checkpoints last year. Ninety-four firearms were found at BNA.
TSA screened approximately 324 million travelers last year at airports nationwide. That figure represents just 39% of the approximately 824 million screened in 2019.
TSA evaluates each firearm incident on a case-by-case basis and travelers face potential criminal and civil penalties for bringing firearms to security checkpoints. Trusted Traveler status and TSA PreCheckTM expedited screening benefits will be revoked as well.
“The recommended civil penalty for a firearm starts at $2,050 and can go up to a maximum of $10,250 per violation,” a news release from TSA states. “Even if a traveler has a concealed weapons permit, firearms are not permitted in carry-on luggage.
“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. Any type of replica firearm is prohibited in carry-on baggage and must be transported in checked luggage.”
Passengers can declare firearms at the airline ticket counter.
TSA has additional traveler information specifically related to the transportation of firearms and ammunition.
TSA has a “Can I Bring?” feature on its website and on the TSA mobile app, myTSA. Travelers can also get answers in real-time to their questions through TSA’s Twitter account @AskTSA. Assistance on Twitter is available weekdays from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekends.