A record 3,391 firearms were discovered in carry-on luggage at U.S. airports in 2016, 83% of which were loaded, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said in a blog post Thursday.
Airports with the most firearm discoveries included Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International, Dallas-Ft. Worth and George Bush International in Houston, Texas, which all ended the year with more than 100 cases. Nationwide, improperly transported firearms were discovered at a rate of about nine per day.
Last year’s tally marks the ninth consecutive record-breaking year; the amount of firearms discovered and seized at airport checkpoints has climbed steadily since 2007. The year 2016 also saw a 28% increase in firearm discoveries over the year prior, according to the TSA.
Federal law only allows passengers to transport guns unloaded in a locked, hardcover case that is in checked, not carry-on, baggage. The TSA said that some passengers say they have “accidentally” tried to board with prohibited items.
“If you’re grabbing a bag, suitcase, briefcase, jacket or other item you haven’t used in a while,” the TSA suggests, “be sure to give it the onceover so you don’t accidentally take something prohibited to the checkpoint.”
TSA said there were also many instances of passengers trying to hide prohibited cargo, some of which were “disguised to look like other items.” These included swords hidden in canes, and knives embedded in various items such as belt buckles, shoes, luggage lining, a thermos and even lipstick.
While transit security officers discover more prohibited items each year, this could be in part because the administration’s capacity has increased over the past decade. In 2016, more than 738 million passengers were screened — over 43 million more than the previous year.
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