Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers at Missouri airports discovered a total of 183 firearms in travelers’ carry-on luggage in 2021.

St. Louis Lambert International Airport (STL) broke a statewide record with 102 guns found, a total higher than the sum of all Missouri airports combined in 2020.

Below is a breakdown of TSA firearm discoveries for the past four years at Missouri airports:

You can view the graph statistics here.

In 2021, TSA screened approximately 585 million passengers and crew at airports nationwide. That figure represents an 81 percent increase over the approximately 324 million screened in 2020.

Statewide in 2021, TSA screened approximately 9.37 million departing travelers at the eight commercial Missouri airports, a 77.4 percent increase over the total number screened in 2020.

Nationwide, a firearm was detected for every 97,999 passengers screened. In Missouri, the rate was much higher, with one firearm discovered for every 51,184 passengers screened.

In addition to potential criminal citations, travelers face civil penalties for bringing firearms to the security checkpoint and TSA evaluates each firearm incident on a case-by-case basis. Among the factors TSA considers when determining the civil penalty amount includes whether the firearm was loaded and whether there was accessible ammunition.

The civil penalty can go up to a maximum of $13,900 per violation. Even if a traveler has a concealed weapons permit, firearms are not permitted in carry-on luggage.
In addition to civil penalties, individuals who violate rules regarding traveling with firearms will have Trusted Traveler status and TSA PreCheck® expedited screening benefits revoked for a period of time.

The duration of the disqualification will depend upon the seriousness of the offense and if there is a repeated history of violations.

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.

At the airport during the check-in process, a passenger needs to go to the airline ticket counter to declare the firearm, ammunition and any firearm parts. Prior to traveling, passengers are encouraged to check gun laws and regulations at their destination to ensure they are in compliance with local and state laws. TSA also recommends travelers check with their airline prior to their flight to ensure they comply with any airline-specific requirements.

TSA has additional traveler information specifically related to the transportation of firearms and ammunition. A full summary of TSA’s civil penalties for prohibited items is also available.

Travelers can use the “Can I Bring?” feature on the TSA website or on the TSA mobile app, myTSA. Travelers can also Tweet or Message “@AskTSA” if they have a travel question or are unsure if an item is allowed through security in a carry-on bag. Just snap a picture or send a question and get real-time assistance weekdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST.


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