The Transportation Security Administration said Friday that its agents had found more than 2,200 guns in carry-on bags last year. That is an increase of nearly 400 guns over the previous year and more than three times the number of guns found in 2005, according to the Washington Post.
Last year’s number represented a 22 percent increase from 2013, when 1,813 firearms were discovered. The number of firearms discovered at TSA checkpoints has risen nearly every year since 2005, reports the Los Angeles Times.
This problem is not new at airports, as TSA agents regularly find guns (and assorted other weapons) in carry-on bags. But it does look like a problem that is getting worse rather than better. 2014 was the seventh consecutive year agents found more guns than the year before. And more than four out of five guns found in carry-on bags last year were loaded, the TSA said.
The TSA documents the guns and other weapons it finds at airports on its blog (which is called The TSA Blog). Sometimes the guns are found in the bags, while other times they are less hidden. (A 94-year-old man went to the checkpoint at LaGuardia Airport in New York with a loaded revolver clipped to his belt.) They are found regularly throughout the year, though some days are busier than others. A record 18 guns were found in a single day in June 2014, the Washington Post reported.
“In many cases, people simply forgot they had these items,” the TSA said in its blog post reviewing the data.
Of the top 10 airports reporting gun seizures, Dallas/Fort Worth led the pack with 120. Three of the top airports were in Texas and two in Houston. Florida also had three airports in the top 10.
Nine of the top airports were in Southern states where there is a culture of guns and a tradition of forceful defense of gun rights. Denver also made the top 10 list — Number 5 with 70 seizures. As a Western state, Colorado shares the same gun culture that marks the South and Southwest.
The Los Angeles Times reports guns and ammunition are not allowed in carry-on bags, but travelers are allowed to check baggage with an unloaded gun. They just have to pack the gun in a locked container and declare it to the airport during check-in, according to the TSA’s guidelines. When a gun or another weapon is found, it is turned over to local law enforcement, and the traveler can face criminal charges.
The TSA is part of the Department of Homeland Security, whose leader, Secretary Jeh C. Johnson, praised workers for how they screened nearly 1.8 million passengers a day.
“DHS employees stand on the front lines protecting our nation from dangerous contraband and people, while ensuring the free flow of lawful trade and commerce—just two aspects of our mission,” Johnson said. “This is critically important work, and our employees’ achievements are self-evident.”
[Image via New York Times]