(The Hill) – The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) intercepted a record number of firearms at security checkpoints in 2022, surpassing 6,000 in a year for the first time. 

In a news release issued Friday, the TSA said it had stopped 6,301 firearms this year, more than 88% of which were loaded. This figure tops the previous record of 5,972 set last year, and officials expect the number to grow to about 6,600 by the end of the year — a more than 10% increase from 2021. 

“I applaud the work of our Transportation Security Officers who do an excellent job of preventing firearms from getting into the secure area of airports, and onboard aircraft,” TSA Administrator David Pekoske said. 

The number of firearms caught at security checkpoints has increased significantly over the past decade, rising from just 1,123 in 2010. The number of incidents consistently rose each year with the exception of 2020, when it dropped by more than 1,000 (largely due to fewer passengers amid the COVID-19 pandemic) before recovering the next year. 

TSA rules forbid firearms in carry-on bags at any security checkpoint, even if a passenger has a concealed weapon permit. 

The agency has also raised the maximum civil penalty for a firearms violation to $14,950 to deter firearms from being brought to checkpoints, though the TSA determines the penalty based on each case. Passengers found to have a firearm will also have their TSA PreCheck eligibility revoked for at least five years. 

Passengers who bring a firearm to a checkpoint may also be arrested, depending on state or local law. 

“When a passenger brings a firearm to the checkpoint, this consumes significant security resources and poses a potential threat to transportation security, in addition to being very costly for the passenger,” Pekoske said. 

Passengers who want to transport a firearm must do so in checked baggage and declare the firearms to their airline upon checking in. Airlines might also have additional requirements.