Feb 1, 2024 - News

Record number of guns found at Charlotte's airport in 2023

Annual increase in firearms found by TSA at Charlotte Douglas International Airport checkpoints from 2019 to 2023. The number rose from 74 in 2019 to 124 in 2023"

Data: Transportation Security Administration; Chart: Axios Visuals

2023 was a record year for Charlotte Douglas International Airport in more ways than one.

State of play: While fewer guns were discovered at North Carolina airports overall in 2023, more were found at Charlotte, per the Transportation Security Administration.

Why it matters: Charlotte's airport is one of the busiest in the world, with a record 53.4 million passengers last year.

By the numbers: TSA discovered a record 124 firearms at CLT last year. North Carolina saw a decrease from 250 in 2022 to 236 in 2023.

  • TSA discovered 6,737 firearms at airports nationwide.

What they're saying: Many passengers say they forgot they were carrying a firearm in their carry-on, NPR reported.

  • "It also reflects a wider trend towards increased gun ownership and state and local laws," TSA spokesperson Alexa Lopez told NPR.
  • A representative from CLT did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Zoom out: As the state's two dominant airports, Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham International Airport account for the bulk of the firearms found. RDU saw a slight increase from 74 firearms in 2022 to 76 in 2023.

  • Asheville Regional Airport saw a decrease in firearms found, from 25 in 2022 to eight in 2023.

Of note: TSA immediately notifies the local airport law enforcement agency when a firearm appears on an X-ray screen. Law enforcement removes the firearm from the X-ray tunnel and contacts the traveler. Next steps are determined by law enforcement.

Tidbit from Axios Atlanta: An Alabama store called Unclaimed Baggage contracts with airliners and resells items travelers abandon or lose.


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Charlotte.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Charlotte stories

No stories could be found


Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Charlotte.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more