This past year the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) had another record-setting year of firearms confiscations, intercepting 2,653 firearms—seven a day— in carry-on bags at airport security checkpoints across the United States.
This represents a nearly 20 percent increase over the 2,212 firearms discovered in 2014. Over 80 percent of these firearms were loaded.
“The transport of firearms by commercial air in carry-on bags represents a threat to the safety and security of air travelers. Through increased training in detection methods, our officers are becoming more adept at intercepting these prohibited items,” said TSA Administrator Peter V. Neffenger. “I am proud of the men and women who serve in the TSA and grateful for their hard work in the past year.”
Year after year, the number of firearms confiscated by TSA continues to escalate. Just last year, the number of firearms discovered by airport security screeners amounted to a 22 percent increase over the previous year’s total of 1,813.
The increase in passengers attempting to smuggle firearms past airport security is disturbing, particularly amid rising fears of a terrorist attack on the homeland. The nation still trembles after the Paris attacks, a tragic beginning to the New Year, and the recent shooting in San Bernardino, Calif. by suspected members of the Islamic State.
Firearms were intercepted at 236 airports; 12 more airports than last year. The airports with the most firearm discoveries in 2015 were:
- Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport: 153
- Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport: 144
- Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport: 100
- Denver International Airport: 90
- Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport: 73
Dangerous items discovered by TSA were not limited to firearms. Airport screening personnel discovered thousands of sharp items, from knives of all sizes to a sickle and even a meat slicer. Other items discovered in carry-on luggage included a speargun in Salt Lake City, a jawbone tomahawk in Las Vegas, and, in Oakland, TSA officers found an eight inch, double-edged knife concealed in a replica in of the Eifel Tower.
Narcotics, some hidden and some in plain sight, were also discovered.
Homeland Security Today has reported on multiple occasions that TSA believes the uptick in firearms seizures is largely due to forgetfulness on the part of passengers. However, the number of guns loaded and chambered calls into question the motivation of some of these travelers.
Weapons—including firearms, firearm parts, and ammunition—are prohibited in carry-on bags. Travelers who bring firearms to the checkpoint may be subject to criminal charges or civil penalties.
TSA says public awareness is key to supporting the agency’s security efforts and encourages travelers to participate in the Department of Homeland Security’s “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign.