A record 3,391 firearms were discovered in carry-on luggage at U.S. airports in 2016, 83% of which were loaded, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said in a blog post Thursday.
Airports with the most firearm discoveries included Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International, Dallas-Ft. Worth and George Bush International in Houston, Texas, which all ended the year with more than 100 cases. Nationwide, improperly transported firearms were discovered at a rate of about nine per day.
Last year’s tally marks the ninth consecutive record-breaking year; the amount of firearms discovered and seized at airport checkpoints has climbed steadily since 2007. The year 2016 also saw a 28% increase in firearm discoveries over the year prior, according to the TSA.
Federal law only allows passengers to transport guns unloaded in a locked, hardcover case that is in checked, not carry-on, baggage. The TSA said that some passengers say they have “accidentally” tried to board with prohibited items.
“If you’re grabbing a bag, suitcase, briefcase, jacket or other item you haven’t used in a while,” the TSA suggests, “be sure to give it the onceover so you don’t accidentally take something prohibited to the checkpoint.”
TSA said there were also many instances of passengers trying to hide prohibited cargo, some of which were “disguised to look like other items.” These included swords hidden in canes, and knives embedded in various items such as belt buckles, shoes, luggage lining, a thermos and even lipstick.
While transit security officers discover more prohibited items each year, this could be in part because the administration’s capacity has increased over the past decade. In 2016, more than 738 million passengers were screened — over 43 million more than the previous year.
|Authorities confiscated fewer firearms at New York City area hubs in 2016 than 2015. (JOHN MOORE/GETTY IMAGES)|
TSA found a record number of guns in carry-ons last year
Airport security screeners confiscated a record number of guns in carry-on bags last year, and most of them were loaded.
The Transportation Security Administration said it discovered 3,391 guns in carry-ons at checkpoints in 2016, a 28% increase from the year before. That works out to about nine every day.
The TSA said 83% of the guns were loaded.
The number of guns confiscated at checkpoints has climbed every year since 2007. One obvious reason is that Americans have more guns. The number of background checks conducted by the FBI for gun purchases and permits has climbed almost every year over the same period.
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport had the most guns discovered last year, 198, followed by Dallas/Fort Worth International and George Bush Intercontinental in Houston. Georgia and Texas have relatively lax gun control laws.
Among the other prohibited items found by the TSA at checkpoints were fake but realistic grenades, cane swords, and knives disguised as combs, belt buckles and lipstick.
In a blog post, the TSA asked passengers to give their luggage a once-over before they bring it to the airport.
"Many people who have brought guns, ammunition, knives and other prohibited items say that they did so unknowingly," the agency wrote.
Feds find record number of guns hidden in air passengers’ carry-ons; New York hubs see decline
Airline passengers hid a record number of guns in their carry-on luggage in 2016, federal officials said.
In all, TSA agents found 3,391 firearms in carry-on bags last year at airports across the country, or about nine a day, with 83% loaded.
The figures marked a 28% jump over 2015, which saw 2,652 guns seized at airports, the Transportation Security Administration said.
The total number in 2016 was triple that in 2010, when 1,123 weapons were confiscated, according to the TSA.
In New York City’s three major airports — Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark — the number of guns seized actually declined from 24 in 2015 to 15 in 2016, the TSA said.
By comparison, agents found 198 guns at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International in 2016, 192 in Dallas/Fort Worth International and 128 at George Bush Intercontinental in Houston.
“We're thankful every day for TSA's service in keeping us safe, and today especially we applaud their vigilance in light of this report,” said Dan Gross of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. “But we also know that agents can't catch everything.”
Gross said the Ft. Lauderdale airport shooting teaches Americans that there’s a limit to safety protocols, and that broader background checks are needed.
“The TSA's report underscores the importance of taking action to keep guns out of dangerous hands,” he said. “With 93 lives lost every day to gun violence, Congress has a moral imperative and a political mandate to act now.”
The TSA screened more than 738 million passengers in 2016, 43 million more passengers than in 2015.