TSA photo (TSA)

The folks who don’t routinely pack a handgun often seem surprised by reports about people who do. Nobody has any real clue as to how many Americans with whom they rub elbows are armed, but action at airport security checkpoints provides some small hint.

It’s not unusual for guards at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to intercept a dozen or more handguns in airports nationwide in any given week. The people who have them in their carry-on bag, purse, backpack or briefcase are questioned by police at the airport. If police are convinced that it was a simple oversight — that the wannabe passenger forgot the gun was in there — they will confiscate the weapon but allow the passenger to board the flight.

So, a persuasive, “Oops, I forgot!” is an acceptable answer most of the time. Which brings us to today’s questions:

Is it possible to forget you’re carrying a machete? Could anyone in the post 9/11 world think it’s just okay to carry a massive knife onto an airplane? And, most of all, what was that person thinking when he tried to board a plane at Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport  this month with a blade so big it’s used to blaze trails through the underbrush and harvest fields of sugar cane?

While this photo ended up in the TSA’s in-box of confiscated weapons, the incident made such a fleeting blip on the radar screen that nobody at TSA or BWI could remember the details.