Record number of firearms found by TSA in carry-on bags in 2016

By now, most people have figured out the routine when arriving at airport security — shoes off, laptops out of their bags and no liquids in containers larger than 3.4 ounces. But the number of people packing guns in their carry-on bags continues to rise, or at the very least they’re getting caught more often, according to figures released by the US Transportation Security Administration. That’s especially true in Texas, where DFW International Airport and Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport ranked second and third for the most firearms discovered in 2016.

A total of 3,391 guns were discovered in carry-on bags across 238 airports by the TSA last year, an average of about nine per day. That’s a 28 percent increase compared to 2015 and twice as many as were discovered in 2012. Of the guns discovered in carry-ons in 2016, 83 percent were loaded, the TSA said. DFW Airport had 192 firearm discoveries, trailing only Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, which had 198 discoveries in 2016. At Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport, 128 firearms were discovered, according to the TSA. Part of the rise in the number of firearms found in carry-on bags can be attributed to the increasing number of places people can carry their firearms, said Rich Roth, executive director of aviation security firm CTI Consulting.

The forbidden carry-ons don’t stop with just guns, though. The TSA reported that it also seized containers of gunpowder, inert grenades and an array of of sharp objects, from knives to saws to metal throwing stars. “TSA officers regularly find sword canes, credit card knives, belt buckle knives, comb/brush knives, knives hidden in shoes, knives hidden in thermoses and knives hidden under the bag lining near the handle mechanism,” the agency wrote in a blog post. Passengers are allowed to transport firearms in checked baggage, but must declare the item to the airline before traveling. Guns in checked bags must be unloaded and locked in a hard-sided case.

The TSA recommends that passengers double-check their carry-on luggage for prohibited items while packing, especially if they haven’t traveled with the bag recently. “Many people who have brought guns, ammunition, knives and other prohibited item say that they did so unknowingly,” the TSA said.