Government screeners at airport security checkpoints seized a record number of guns in 2014.
Air travelers caught trying to board a plane with a weapon included a 94-year-old man at New York’s LaGuardia Airport. The man had a loaded .38-caliber revolver clipped to his belt.
The Los Angeles Times reported Friday on a new Transportation Security Administration study that found a significant increase in the number of firearms seized in carry-on bags at 224 airports. The TSA said it confiscated 2,212 firearms in 2014, compared to 1,813 in 2013. That’s a rise of 22 percent.
The TSA said about 83 percent of the confiscated guns were loaded.
Last month, New York City prosecutors brought a gun smuggling case against five people who were charged with circumventing TSA security procedures for carry-on bags. One of the suspects in that case was an Atlanta airport baggage handler. Prosecutors accused the baggage handler of using his employee access card to help cohorts smuggle dozens of guns on board New York-bound flights.
The TSA report showed there has been a steady hike in the number of guns seized at airport security checkpoints since 2005.
The TSA screened about 650 million air travelers last year. The TSA also inspected 1.7 billion carry-on bags.
The TSA was created in the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks and operates as part of the Department of Homeland Security.
“DHS employees stand on the front lines protecting our nation from dangerous contraband and people, while ensuring the free flow of lawful trade and commerce -- just two aspects of our mission,” DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson said. “This is critically important work, and our employees’ achievements are self-evident.”
The top five airports for weapon seizures were Dallas/Fort Worth (120), Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson (109), Phoenix Sky Harbor (78), Houston George Bush (77) and Denver (70).
The seizures included not just small firearms, but a grenade and a loaded assault rifle with three loaded magazines.
TSA also reported confiscating 1,400 firearm components, replica firearms, stun guns and other dangerous objects in carry-on baggage last year.
“In many cases, people simply forgot they had these items,” the TSA said, according to the Times.
The Times reports that one item seized last year was a 8.5-inch knife discovered in a woman's enchilada at the Charles M. Schulz–Sonoma County Airport in California.
“While this was a great catch, the passenger's intent was delicious, not malicious, and she was cleared for travel,” the TSA said.