Consider this recent case of a man who was turned away from the TSA checkpoint because he had a loaded .22-caliber handgun on him, at Portand International Airport. He was told to go check it into his bag. Rather than do that, though, he instead decided to hide it in a potted plant in the main lobby, thinking he could retrieve it when he returned from his trip! Never mind that thousands of people pass through there every day, including families with small children.
Here's an article about two incidents of loaded handguns caught on passengers at Utah airports.
Here's a report from just a couple days ago of an 81-year old man who had a loaded 9mm gun with extra ammo in his luggage, without notifying anyone.
But despite all the reports I've seen, it still shocked me to read the following statistic from a gallery of weapons found so far this year in airport screenings (bolding added):
The TSA reports that it's confiscated 821 firearms in 2012 to date (691 of which were loaded). Some were stowed away in creative places, like in a potted plant or inside stuffed animals.
|Some recent guns and ammo confiscated by TSA|
They've also confiscated knives, machetes, live and inert grenades, a bazooka round, blasting caps and detonators, and even swords!
I then visited the TSA blog and saw report after report, and image after image, of many of these weapons.
Unfortunately, not all are captured initially, like this woman who took a gun through in her purse, or this businessman who unintentionally took a gun through in his laptop bag (and reported it afterward). I wonder how many more are never caught. According to that last link, "up to 70% of tests done at certain airports failed to identify such items." Yikes!
I'm as annoyed as anyone else at the searches at the security checkpoints. I used to get quite angry about it. But now that I know so many dangerous and irresponsible people are trying to get weapons through there, I don't feel quite so bad about it. I'm glad they were caught!
UPDATE (9/29/12): The TSA has updated their numbers. From a New York Times article:
Through Friday, 1,105 guns have been found this year, a pace that is higher than last year’s. In 2011, the total was 1,320, up from 1,123 in 2010, the agency says.
Security experts attribute the increase to two factors: a rise in gun sales and the sharp growth of so-called right-to-carry laws across the country that significantly relax regulations on carrying guns in many areas of public life, from colleges to hospitals.
Invariably, according to the T.S.A., travelers at airports with guns in their carry-on bags say they simply forgot they had them. “It’s almost always inadvertent rather than intentional,” said David Castelveter, a spokesman for the agency
Like other professionals in security, law enforcement and firearms safety, Mr. Castelveter was baffled by how anyone could forget that they were carrying a gun.
“I’m a Vietnam vet, and when I went through training I was taught that my gun was my best friend — and God forbid you should ever lose sight of that fact. I would never, ever not know that I have a gun in my bag.”