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Gun seizures at U.S. airports on record-setting pace yet again, TSA says

A TSA official helps passengers load their carry-on belongings onto an automated conveyor belt at a new passenger screening lane at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on May 25, 2016. (David Goldman/AP)

The number of firearms seizures at the nation’s airports appears to be on pace to set another annual record, security officials said this week.

A record 96 firearms were found in carry-on bags in the last week of July, up from a previous record of 89 firearms found during a comparable period the previous month, the Transportation Security Administration announced on its blog.

Odd, but true, stories on how fliers ‘forgot’ their guns in carry-ons

Of the 96 firearms discovered at security checkpoints, 85 were loaded and 26 had live rounds chambered. This is in addition, of course, to all the other dangerous and occasionally wacky stuff the TSA finds people trying to smuggle aboard commercial aircraft, including fake grenades, brass knuckles, swords, meat cleavers and other prohibited items. On Tuesday, TSA agents caught two brothers from Australia trying to board a flight from John F. Kennedy International Airport with firearm components concealed in their undergarments, the agency reported.

Firearms Detected at TSA Checkpoints Nationwide

Year Nationwide
2016 3,391
2015 2,653
2014 2,212
2013 1,813
2012 1,556
2011 1,320
2010 1,123

The agency has detected record numbers of illegally carried firearms for at least the past four years and appears well on its way to another record. As of the end of June, the grand tally for firearms detected by the TSA was 1,861 — or about 20 percent more than were collected in the first six months of 2016, when the agency intercepted 1,546 firearms. To put this number in perspective, the agency found 1,556 firearms in all of 2012.

Even stranger but true stories of people with guns at airports

The increase in gun seizures is no doubt a reflection of record numbers of air travelers and the rising number of Americans who have permits to carry concealed weapons.

More than 16.3 million people have obtained permits to carry concealed firearms, up from an estimated 14.5 million just a year earlier, according to  estimates by the Crime Prevention Research Center. Among the states that have publicly reported record issuance rates for concealed weapons in recent years are Minnesota, Ohio, South Dakota and Washington.

Trump aide was among record numbers of people caught taking a firearm through a TSA checkpoint last year

But the number of firearms that show up at TSA checkpoints also reflects nothing less than carelessness on the part of gun owners — and, arguably, insufficiently serious consequences for everybody who “forgets” he or she is walking around with a deadly weapon.

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