An average of 11 guns a day were found at US airports – and 80 per cent of them were loaded.
A record number of 4,239 guns were found in travellers’ carry-on bags in airports across the US in 2018, which averaged more than 81 guns a week.
It marks a 7 per cent uptick on the number of guns discovered in 2017 (3,957).
More than four out of five guns (a record 3,656) were found loaded, according to the US’ Transport Security Administration (TSA).
The most guns were found at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the world’s busiest. Security officers found 298 guns last year, an increase of 53 guns from 2017. During August alone, officers found 32 at the Georgia airport.
Other Southern US airports were the worst culprits for gun discoveries, with Dallas/Fort Worth, Phoenix, Denver and Orlando following Atlanta in the top five airports for most firearms found in carry-on luggage.
Out of 440 US airports, guns were found at 249 of them.
Civil penalties of up to $13,333 (£10,313) can be imposed on travellers for bringing prohibited items into the airport, said the TSA.
The government agency said that travellers should familiarise themselves with state and airline laws, and should contact their airline if they are planning on bringing a gun with them.
Alongside a record gun haul, TSA agents also found smoke grenades in Nashville; an inert grenade at Las Vegas; a bottle of lighter fluid in Seattle; and fireworks and mortar shells in Orlando.
Meanwhile, TSA said it handled a record number of fliers in 2018 – 813.8 million, which marks more than 2 million passengers a day.