Transportation Security Administration, the federal agency in charge of airline safety, reports catching a record 4,650 firearms at checkpoints in the first 10 months of the year, a majority of which were loaded.
The number surpasses the total-year record of 4,432 set in 2019, according to CNN.
TSA Administrator David Pekoske told CNN that air travelers are bringing guns to airports in unprecedented numbers, which he described as a “huge problem.”
Passengers are allowed to fly with a gun but it must be secure and transported in an aircraft’s cargo bay.
He also said the high number of disorderly air travelers, planes and at airport checkpoints, “makes it more important that there are no guns involved.”
Most of the firearms found were loaded – more than 3,900, or more than 80%, CNN also reports.
Pekoske speculated the number of confiscated weapons reflects a U.S. population that is increasingly armed.
“Whatever is happening across the country we see reflected in our checkpoints,” he said.