Flying bullets: TSA notes uptick in Americans coming to airports armed

Over 1500 Americans attempted to board a plane with handguns in 2012. Facing total anti-terror surveillance in the US and en masse TSA scanning of passengers in airports, some US citizens still hope to fly the friendly skies while packing heat.

Long gone are the days when a law-abiding American could get onto
a plane with a loaded revolver securely holstered inside their
waistband. US government regulations currently ban any kind of
guns, replicas, ammunition or handgun from being carried on
domestic and international routes.

Following the September 11 attacks, all pointed and potentially
dangerous objects, from scissors to billiard cues, were also
banned from commercial flights.

So, the message today is simple and clear: no guns aboard
passenger aircraft. Exceptions are few. A hunter can have their
arms declared unloaded after being inspected by the
Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and securely locked
in a special container.

But some guns just don’t get separated from their owners, the
TSA, with its pervasive verification screeners, has revealed.

The agency’s stats suggest that the number of passengers carrying
guns in hand baggage or on their persons is steadily growing year
by year, AP reports.

Firearms are being forfeited at US airports on a daily basis. In
the first half of 2013, TSA screeners detected 894 undeclared
guns on passengers or in their baggage, a 30 percent increase
over the previous year. 

Some 1,549 handguns were detected in 2012, a 17 percent increase
over 2011. The most popular caliber of guns intercepted in 2012
were .38 caliber, and 85 percent of the confiscated guns were
loaded.

Photo from blog.tsa.gov

Statistics before 2011 are unavailable, but this year’s findings
thus far most indicate that a new arms confiscation record will
be set in 2013 in light of the upward trend in recent years.

Among ten airports leading in gun confiscation incidents are
those in the South and the West of the US, where American gun
culture is strongest, AP reports.

According to TSA data, the absolute leader is Dallas-Fort Worth
International, where 80 guns were detected last year.

In sharp contrast to it stands John F. Kennedy International
Airport in New York, where TSA screened nearly 27 million
passengers in 2012, and just one person was detected with a gun.

The latest record was renewed in May, when the TSA seized 65 guns
in one week, 45 of them loaded, of which 15 were action-ready —
with a bullet in the chamber.

Gun oblivion epidemic

People carry their firearms everywhere, sometimes in locations
where they are begging to get caught, like armpit holsters and
handbags, while others make more conscious efforts at stashing
them away.

Some survivalists passing through airport security come packing
more than one handgun.

Some of the firearms have been designed to look like objects
other than guns — like pens for example.

Photo from blog.tsa.gov

“We do assume that the vast majority of weapons that come
through are [from] people who didn’t know they couldn’t carry
them on or were not aware they were in the bag,”
TSA
spokesman David Castelveter said.

Some air passengers busted carrying arms are taken into custody,
but not all, certainly, as it all depends on local gun laws. As a
result, the handguns detected by the TSA are not always
confiscated.

“They can be permitted to take the weapon back to their car
and come back,”
Castelveter explained. “If it is illegal
[to carry a weapon in this region], then it is confiscated by law
enforcement.”

Not terrorists, but ‘Why?’

The TSA official maintains that his agency does not regard all
passengers carrying arms as terrorists, but could not explain why
so many people keep doing it.

“I forgot it was there” is the most common excuse offered,
Castelveter said.

“We don’t analyze the behavioral traits of people who carry
weapons. We’re looking for terrorists,”
the TSA spokesperson
said. “But sometimes you have to scratch your head and say,
‘Why?’”

Photo from blog.tsa.gov

Some Americans are so accustomed to carrying loaded guns for
protection that for them, it’s the equivalent of “carrying
keys or a wallet”
, Jimmy Taylor, the author of several books
on American gun culture and a sociology professor at Ohio
University-Zanesville, told AP. But even to him an idea of
bringing a gun to an airport sounds a bit wild.

“It’s a little difficult to imagine that you aren’t checking
the policies about your loaded firearm before you get to the
airport,”
Taylor said.

Sometimes people caught with firearms in airports actually work
for law enforcement agencies and are in the regular habit of
carrying handguns, but such cases are more an exception than the
rule.

“There are some Americans who believe that there are no
limits, that they not only have a constitutional but a God-given
right to have a gun and ‘By gosh, if I want to bring a gun on a
plane I’m going to do it,”
says Robert Spitzer, an expert on
gun policy and gun rights and a professor at the State University
of New York-Cortland.

As technological progress begets new gizmos like fully operable
3D
printed plastic guns
, the TSA is likely to have their work
cut out for them, as one does not necessarily need to print a 3D
print a weapon that looks like one.

Republished with permission from: RT