NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)- Transportation Security Authority agents found 72 firearms in travelers’ carry-on luggage at South Carolina airport security checkpoints in 2021— a new annual record for the state.

Below is a breakdown of firearm discoveries in 2021:

  • Charleston International (CHS): 30
  • Myrtle Beach International (MYR): 13
  • Greenville-Spartanburg International (GSP): 17
  • Columbia Metropolitian Airport (CAE): 11
  • Hilton Head Island (HXD): 0
  • Florence Regional (FLO): 1
  • South Carolina total: 72

The latest data indicates a significant spike as only 41 firearms were discovered by South Carolina TSA officers in 2020.

In 2021, TSA screened approximately 5.56 million departing travelers at the six commercial South Carolina airports, a 114 percent increase over the total number screened in 2020.

Charleston International Airport CEO, Elliott Summey, released the following statement:

“We are grateful to the men and women of TSA who work tirelessly everyday screening thousands of passengers and baggage.  Their diligence continues to keep the travelling public safe. 

We want travelers to know that firearms can be transported on a commercial aircraft.  But 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.

We have also increased our police presence at the checkpoints and other areas inside and outside of the terminal to ensure passenger safety.”

National Trends

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

Nationwide, a firearm was detected for every 97,999 passengers screened leading to a total of 5,972 firearms discovered across 268 airports in 2021. The majority (86%) of those firearms were loaded.

Below is a breakdown of the top 5 US airports for firearm discoveries:

  • Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International (ATL): 507
  • Dallas/Ft. Worth International: 317
  • Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental (IAH): 245
  • Phoenix Sky Harbor International (PHX): 196
  • Nashville International Airport (BNA): 163

If you do want to travel with a firearm, it must be unloaded, packed in a locked, hard-sided container, and checked as baggage. Additional information can be found on the TSA website.