Gun-toting passengers on the rise, says Transportation Security Administration
Associated Press in Washington
At airports across the US, passengers have tried to walk through security with loaded guns in their carry-on bags, purses or pockets, even in a boot. And - nearly a dozen years after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks - it is happening a lot more often.
In the first six months of this year, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screeners found 894 guns on passengers or in their carry-on bags, a 30 per cent increase over the same period last year.
The TSA set a record in May for the most guns seized in one week - 65 in all, 45 of them loaded and 15 with bullets in the chamber and ready to be fired. That was 30 per cent more than the previous record of 50 guns, set just two weeks earlier.
Last year 1,549 firearms were found on passengers attempting to go through screening, up 17 per cent from the year before, TSA records showed.
Eighty-five per cent of the guns intercepted last year were loaded. The most common type of gun was a .38-calibre pistol.
Airports located in the south and the west, where American gun culture is the strongest, had the greatest number of guns intercepted.
The TSA did not keep statistics on guns intercepted before 2011, but officials had noticed an upward trend in recent years, said spokesman David Castelveter.
TSA did not believe these gun-toting passengers were terrorists, but the agency could not explain why so many passengers try to board planes with guns, either, Castelveter said. The most common excuse offered by passengers was, "I forgot it was there".
"We don't analyse the behavioural traits of people who carry weapons. We're looking for terrorists," he said. "But sometimes you have to scratch your head."