Record number of guns found at US airports this year
The total number of guns captured from passengers at US airports has hit a record high since the beginning of 2015, a new report shows.
According to weekly data by the US Transport Security Administration (TSA), as of December 10, a total of 2,471 firearms have been found at airport security checkpoints.
The figure shows a significant increase to the 2,212 that were found in 2014, which itself was 22 percent more than 2013. For comparison, the number of guns found at airports stood at 660 in 2005.
Most of the people caught with guns in their carry-on bags say they “simply forgot they had these items,” the TSA said in its report.
“In egregious cases,” such as repeat offenders, TSA is allowed to issue fines of up to $11,000, said Bruce Anderson, a spokesman for the agency.
However, in general “they receive a notice of fine of about $3,000,” he added.
The report noted that more than 80 percent of the guns turning up at airports are loaded and depending on state and local laws, can bring about criminal charges against their owners.
According to Newsweek, despite the advancement in security technologies, it is safe to assume that still a large number of gun owners are successful in getting past the security barriers with their guns.
Last December, Brooklyn prosecutors charged several men, including an employee of Delta Air Lines, who had reportedly bypassed security checkpoints and smuggled 153 guns into the passenger cabins of 17 flights from Atlanta to New York.
To find out just how secure major US airports are, the Department of Homeland Security carried out a series of tests earlier this year, during which inspectors managed to smuggle guns and other weapons undetected in 67 of 70 tests.
The report came at a time when the American public has witnessed a string of shooting attacks in the recent past.
One such incident occurred a few days ago in San Bernardino, California, when two alleged Daesh (ISIL) sympathizers stormed a holiday party and killed 14 people and injured 21 others.
The attack, along with other high profile shootings in the past, has prompted President Barack Obama to push for tighter gun control laws in the country, an attempt that has been constantly blocked by the Republican Party.
Today, it is estimated that there are between 270 million and 300 million guns in the US, about one per person, according to New York Daily News.