More people have been packing guns in airports across the country with the TSA discovering a record-breaking number of firearms in passengers’ carry-on bags for the 10th year in a row. Airport security screeners uncovered 3,957 firearms in 2017, a 16 percent increase from 2016, according to the Transportation Security Administration’s Year in Review Report. The majority of those guns — 84 percent — were loaded at the time.
The amount of firearms discovered at airport checkpoints has consistently climbed in the last decade, the total more than quadrupling since 2007, according to the report. Guns were discovered at 239 airports nationwide, with Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport taking the top spot for most firearms seizures. A total of 245 guns were recovered at the Georgia airport, 222 of them loaded.
Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston round out the top three, with 211 and 142 guns seized at each location, respectively.
Federal law allows for passengers to transport unloaded guns in a locked, hard-sided container. It must be declared, and the gun cannot be packed in a carry-on. In addition to firearms, the TSA in 2017 recovered “thousands upon thousands” of sharp items in carry-on bags as well as other hazardous items — including live grenades and large quantities of gunpowder.
While properly packed ammunition is allowed in checked bags, gunpowder is prohibited altogether. Officers also recovered scores of “inert items,” including a replica suicide vest, a realistic looking land mine and dozens of fake grenades and explosive devices. “When being viewed on the X-ray monitor, we don’t know if these are real or inert until TSA explosive experts are called to the scene,” the TSA said in a release. “Inert grenades can lead to closed terminals and checkpoints, which can often result in costly canceled or delayed flights.”
TSA agents urged travelers to double-check their belongings as many commuters claim they’ve only brought along the prohibited items by mistake. “If you’re grabbing a bag, suitcase, briefcase jacket or other item you haven’t used in a while, be sure to give it the once-over so you don’t accidentally take something to the airport,” they said.