Gun Seizures at U.S. Airports Double During the Pandemic

The USA’s aviation security service revealed earlier this year that the proportion of passengers caught illegally trying to carry guns onto planes in their hand luggage has doubled over the last year during the pandemic.

In 2019, officers found five firearms per million passengers, but for 2020 that figure was up 100% to 10 firearms per million passengers. Although that may not sound like a lot, that’s the equivalent of the police finding two to three concealed guns at London’s Heathrow airport every single day of 2020, and there may be ones they didn’t even find that aren’t included in the numbers.

Experts believe that officers are missing 20-30% of weapons at airport security checkpoints and of those, 97% are intentionally hidden. Jeff Price, Professor of Aviation Management at the Metropolitan State University of Denver, and former Assistant Security Director at Denver International Airport, said, “Detection rates are absolution horrible. The US Department of Homeland Security uses what it calls ‘Red Teams,’ who basically pretend to be terrorists and test security by trying to smuggle weapons onto planes. And they are only caught 2 to 3% of the time.”

You can read more about the surprisingly high number of guns that are confiscated from airport travelers in our 2017 blog post here.

Fortunately, most people who are stopped with guns at airport security mean no harm, even though 83% of the weapons are loaded. Sheldon Jacobson, aviation security expert at the University of Illinois, said, “It’s usually because their gun is legal where they live and where they’re going, and they just didn’t know they weren’t allowed to take it in the cabin with them; or because they’ve simply forgotten they chucked it in their laptop bag or handbag or whatever.”

The huge increase, however, is partly because of “the Covid mindset.” Professor Price explained, “Gun sales are up across the board. A lot of people thought ‘The apocalypse is here!’, and there’s been a ‘Buy guns, hoard food’ mentality. There are simply more people carrying guns around these days.”

Additionally, since the number of passengers has dropped by half-a-billion in the U.S. alone over the past year, security agents have a lot more time to spend screening each passenger and each bag. So agents are finding all the guns they normally miss because things were too busy before.

Here’s a list of the top ten U.S. airports for gun seizures:

  1. 1. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
  2. 2. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport
  3. 3.Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport
  4. 4. Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport
  5. 5. Denver International Airport
  6. 6. Nashville International Airport
  7. 7. Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport
  8. 8. Orlando International Airport
  9. 9.Las Vegas McCarran International Airport
  10. 10. Salt Lake City International Airport

If you or someone you know was injured due to no fault of your own, either while working or traveling in an airport/airplane, please give us a text or call (703-796-9555) or email us at Abrams Landau, Ltd.