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Thumbs down: Guns seized at US airports are on the rise

Jul. 06, 2013 @ 12:01 AM

Most Americans have become accustomed to the tighter security at airports since 9/11.

We empty our pockets, take off our belts and shoes and walk through the full-body scans in our stocking feet.

The Transportation Security Administration screeners put us through all of that to prevent passengers boarding the plane with explosives or weapons. But apparently some people are surprised to find that also includes things like, say ... loaded handguns.

In the first six months of this year, TSA officers confiscated 894 guns from passengers or their carry-on bags, an increase of 30 percent from the same period last year, according to a report on the trend by The Associated Press. About 85 percent of the guns were loaded, and quite a few had bullets in the chamber, ready to fire.

Surprisingly, confiscations have been on the rise for a couple of years. Last year, screenings turned up 1,549 firearms, an increase of 17 percent from the year before. And those numbers don't include lesser weapons that are also prohibited such as flare guns, BB guns, air guns, spear guns, pellet guns or starter pistols. Apparently stun guns are found regularly.

The problem is much more common in the West and South -- Atlanta leads the way, along with five airports in Texas and several in Florida. Guns turn up frequently in smaller airports in those regions, as well. On the other had, the TSA screened 27 million passengers at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York and found only one gun.

In most cases, there is no suspicion of terrorism. Generally, the offenders said they just forgot they had the weapon. That may be the most plausible explanation, but it does not lessen the danger to the flying public.

The TSA does not track what charges offenders face, because it depends on guns laws in the various locations. But stiffer fines would remind gun owners to act more responsibly.

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