March 02, 2022

Rep. Watson Coleman Introduces the Securing Air Travel Act

H.R. 6856 Seeks to Address the Transportation Security Administration’s Unprecedented Surge of Firearms Recovered at its Checkpoints

Today, the House Committee on Homeland Security will consider H.R. 6856, the Securing Air Travel Act introduced by Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12) chair of the subcommittee on Transportation and Maritime Security. This act would establish minimum monetary penalties for repeat and egregious violations of the prohibition on firearms at Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoints. 

Last year, TSA intercepted nearly 6,000 firearms at checkpoints – an 83% increase over the previous year. The number of firearms caught at checkpoints has doubled on a per-passenger basis since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, reaching its highest rate in the agency’s 19 year history. Although the imperative of preventing a hijacker from boarding a plane with a firearm is self-evident, even routine firearm encounters at checkpoints stretch limited law enforcement resources, while endangering the public and transportation personnel. 

“We need to explore a range of solutions to keep guns off planes and away from TSA checkpoints,” said Watson Coleman during a subcommittee hearing earlier this month. 

The Securing Air Travel Act will address these issues by establishing minimum civil penalties for repeat or egregious violations and restrict PreCheck eligibility for those individuals. The bill will also require airports to display prominent signage, strengthen TSA’s efforts to inform the public of potential consequences, and provide Congress with regular reports on the implementation of the legislation. 

H.R. 6856is co-sponsored by Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (MS-2).