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Nashville airport alone breaks all-time TN record for gun seizures at TSA checkpoints in 2021

The TSA said it was another record year for gun seizures at airport checkpoints. Nashville had the fifth-most seizures out of all airports in the U.S.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The federal Transportation Security Administration stopped a record number of guns from passing through airport checkpoints in the U.S. in 2021. In Tennessee, Nashville alone broke the state record for airport gun seizures. 

The TSA said Tennessee saw another record 283 checkpoint gun seizures after tying the previous record of 162 in 2020. 

Nashville International Airport, in particular, saw a record spike that singlehandedly broke the previous state record. The TSA caught 163 guns at BNA checkpoints in 2021 -- more than all other Tennessee airports combined. Nashville's airport also saw the fifth-most guns caught at TSA checkpoints compared to the rest of the U.S. 

McGhee Tyson Airport in East Tennessee saw 21 seizures in 2021, which was five short of the record levels seen in 2019.

Memphis International Airport posted a record 67 seizures, Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport had a record 24 seizures, and the Tri-Cities Regional Airport saw 8 seizures.

Tennessee saw a firearm detected in one out of every 37,799 passengers screened last year, which the TSA said was 2.5 times higher than the national rate. 

The TSA said it saw an 81% increase in air travelers in the U.S. in 2021 compared to the low levels seen in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Across the U.S., the TSA caught a record 5,972 firearms in 2021, up by more than 2,700 from 2020 and 1,500 from the previous record set in 2019. 

Of those, the TSA said 86% were loaded when they confiscated them.

Firearms are allowed to be transported in checked bagged if they are unloaded and packed in a locked hard case. The TSA said passengers must declare any firearms, ammunition or parts in their checked luggage at the airline ticket counter during check-in.

"Even if a traveler has a concealed weapons permit, firearms are not permitted in carry-on luggage," the TSA said.

If a traveler is caught carrying a firearm through a TSA checkpoint on their person or carry-on luggage, they could face criminal charges and fines. The civil penalty can go up to $13,900 per violation.

The TSA said it evaluates each firearm incident on a case-by-case basis, and recommends travelers to check state and local gun laws along with airline-specific rules before they travel.

Which airports seized the most guns in 2021? 

1. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) 507

2. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) 317

3. Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) 245

4. Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) 196

5. Nashville International Airport (BNA) 163

6. Denver International Airport (DEN) 141

7. Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) 128

8. Orlando International Airport (MCO) 124

9. New Orleans Louis Armstrong International Airport (MSY) 119

10. Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) 115 

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