After a string of record-breaking weeks, the TSA says it will likely smash the record set last year for the largest number of guns seized by screeners at airport security checkpoints.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is on pace to seize more firearms this year at airport security checkpoints than ever before. The agency says it is likely to smash the previous record number of guns discovered which was set just last year.
In 2016, the agency reported finding 3,391 firearms at airports in the US. That number represented a 30 percent increase over the number of guns seized at checkpoints in 2015 – a year which held the previous record for firearms discovered. In fact, the TSA has found more firearms at security checkpoints each year consistently for more than a decade now.
“While it’s impossible to ascertain an exact, scientific reason for the increase, there does seem to be a correlation between the increase in the number of firearms caught and the increase in passenger volume,” TSA spokesperson Mike England told the Washington Examiner this week. “2016 was a record year for passenger volume and the industry is on pace to break that record in 2017. The same can be said for TSA firearm catches.”
The record-breaking pace has been helped by a number of consecutive weeks this year that saw more weapons discovered than any prior week. In July of this year, the TSA discovered a record number, 89 firearms at airport checkpoints. The following week, that number was eclipsed when passengers were thwarted from bringing 96 guns onto commercial airline flights. In March of this year, the agency found 81 firearms in a single week, tying a record set in August of last year in which back-to-back all-time high gun seizure numbers were recorded.
The ever-increasing number of firearms intercepted at airports comes despite the TSA’s stepped-up efforts to make it easier for passengers to travel with legal firearms. The agency makes clear that legal guns are generally allowed in checked bags and has released a number of publicly available informational publications detailing the proper procedures for air travelers wishing to bring firearms with them to their destinations.
“Before leaving home, travelers are encouraged to check their baggage to ensure they are not traveling with any prohibited items including firearms, firearm parts and ammunition to avoid a possible arrest or civil penalties,” the TSA warns in its most recent guide to “Packing Firearms and Ammunition.”
This message seems not to be reaching an ever-increasing number of passengers.
“The number-one excuse that people give us for why they have their gun with them at a checkpoint is that they forgot that they had their gun with them,” TSA spokesperson Lisa Farbstein told the Examiner’s Anna Giaritelli in August. “The second-most common excuse is that their husband or wife packed their bag. Neither of those excuses fly.”