If you need a measure of the daily security pressure your local airport’s Transportation Security Administration personnel are under you need look no further than the fact that its agents have discovered more than 1,850 firearms, 1,471 of which were armed by the way, so far this year. And it is the third year in a row the number has gone up – from about 1,500 in 2012.
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The numbers are crazy stupid when you think about all the attention any of these gun discoveries gets and the amount of media attention focused on airline security in general.
The TSA this week celebrated the fact that it had discovered so many guns and thus kept airline travel that much safer. In a release the agency noted: [Since Jan. 1] a total of 3,048 firearms, firearm components, replica firearms, stun guns, and other similar dangerous objects have been discovered by TSA from passengers in their carry-on luggage. Last week alone, TSA discovered 41 firearms (34 of which were loaded), 16 stun guns, four replica grenades, a 13-inch cane sword, and a box-cutter found concealed in the lining of a carry-on bag.
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TSA spokesman Ross Feinstein when asked of the TSA has a theory on why so many more guns are being brought onboard airlines, Tweeted with me today that “The vast majority of passengers just tell law enforcement, ‘I forgot.’ We continue to remind passengers they can check them.”
It is also probably not a coincidence that most of the illegally carried on guns come from areas of the country where local rules are most lenient about carrying them: Dallas, Houston, Atlanta and Denver.
The TSA notes that aside from slowing down the check-in process when guns are found they are turned over to local law enforcement authorities, resulting in an arrest in about 20% of the cases.
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The TSA adds to that it is legal to travel with firearms in checked baggage, but they must first be declared to the airline. “Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality. Travelers should familiarize themselves with state and local firearm laws for each point of travel prior to departure. Each time we find a dangerous item, the line is slowed down and a passenger that likely had no ill intent ends up with a citation or in some cases is even arrested. The passenger can face a penalty as high as $7,500. This is a friendly reminder to please leave these items at home. Just because we find a prohibited item on an individual does not mean they had bad intentions, that's for the law enforcement officer to decide.”
What can be done to keep these numbers from growing? What do you think?
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