Tampa International Airport was one of 10 airports in the U.S. to have the most firearms confiscated from carry-on bags at security checkpoints in 2022, according to the Transportation Security Administration.
Tampa was 10th in the nation last year, with 131 firearms found, according to TSA data posted on Twitter. Two other Florida airports were also in the top 10, with 162 firearms found at Orlando International Airport and 134 at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.
Confiscation numbers set records locally, statewide and nationwide. The 131 firearms found last year at Tampa International Airport topped the previous record of 105 in 2021, TSA spokesperson Sari Koshetz told the Tampa Bay Times. The vast majority of the firearms were handguns such as Glocks.
Over the past decade, the Tampa airport has generally ranked at the No. 10 or No. 11 spot on the TSA’s yearly list, she said.
“It is an unfortunate trend,” Koshetz said. “You are endangering people’s lives, including your own.”
Across Florida, TSA officers confiscated a record 854 guns in 2022, she said. That’s a 28% increase from the previous record in 2021.
Nationally, the TSA said a record 6,542 firearms were found at airport security checkpoints in 2022. Of those, 88% were loaded.
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport led the country with 448 firearms found in bags at security checkpoints last year. Texas, like Florida, had three airports listed in the top 10.
In a news release, the TSA said it found one gun for every 116,394 travelers screened nationwide, and at least one firearm was discovered at 262 different airports. The TSA screened more than 736 million passengers in 2022, a volume it says is back to pre-pandemic numbers.
Firearms are not allowed in a carry-on bag even if the passenger has a concealed carry permit. They can only be brought on a plane if they are unloaded and packed in a locked, hard-sided case that is checked.
Passengers who bring a firearm in a carry-on bag can face criminal penalties. In December, the TSA increased its maximum fine to $15,000. Other penalties can include loss of TSA PreCheck eligibility for up to five years.
The TSA already has found firearms in the new year. Koshetz said seven guns have been confiscated at Tampa International Airport in 2023, and 33 across Florida so far.