For anyone who travels through the nation’s airports with any regularity, it might sound shocking that the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) reported that they seized 2,212 guns in 2014. In fact, in addition to guns, they seized knives, ninja throwing stars, a sickle, a grenade, and a meat cleaver. This is an arsenal fit for a battle! Very few of these individuals were arrested due to their “negligence.” However, each case that occurred in the Detroit Airport resulted in the owner of the bag being charged with a misdemeanor according to Detroit Metro Airport Police spokesperson Michael Conway.
2,212 guns reportedly seized by the TSA is an increase of 22 percent from 2013 when there were 1,813 guns seized. This is more than TSA has ever recorded in a period. Jeh Johnson, Homeland Security Secretary, explains that these security agents at the airport “stand on the front lines protecting our nation from dangerous contraband and people, while ensuring the free flow of lawful trade and commerce – just two aspects of our mission.” This report is disconcerting for passengers but also for those agents at security checkpoints considering 83 percent of these guns were found loaded.
This is an average of six guns per day. The report listed that these findings took place at 224 airports in the United States. The airports that listed the highest number of seizures were Dallas Fort Worth International Airport with 120 guns found and Atlanta where 109 guns were found in passenger bags. Both Phoenix’s Six Harbor and Bush International in Houston had over 50 cases while Detroit had 32.
In 2005, 650 guns were found in airports at security checkpoints and this number has steadily increased over the past ten years. A contributing factor may be that 14 years ago was when 9/11 occurred causing an unprecedented increase in airport security. Maybe the process is becoming more efficient. The 1,813 guns found in 2013 was an increase from 1,556 in 2012, which was an increase from 1,320 seizures in 2011. These numbers seem high, but when it is considered that the TSA screened in excess of 443 million checked bags and 1.7 million carry-on parcels in 2014, it is rather reasonable.
Guns were not the only contraband trying to be smuggled via U.S. airways though. Agents also recovered 23,000 counterfeited items with an estimated reselling value of $1.2 billion in 2014. $10 million of this contraband was fake headphones replicating Beats by Dre. $1 million was fake guitar merchandise supposed to have been manufactured by Gibson, Les Paul. Another $1 million was found in counterfeited athletic apparel and other designer clothing lines like Chelsea, Real Madrid, and Celtic. This report does not reveal a weakness in airline security. It does quite the opposite. It shows that security process is working and travelers should be conscious of it.
In light of this TSA report revealing that were 2,212 guns and contraband being seized at airports, 99 percent of airline passengers needed to wait in security lines about 20 minutes less than they had to in the past. TSA spokesman Ross Feinstein simply explains that this report is intended to remind passengers to check the contents of their luggage before they arrive at the security gates, in order to better make sure that they are not carrying prohibited items which will delay their entry onto the plane. This seems like good advice for any passenger wanting to make their flight without acquiring a misdemeanor charge.
By Joel Wickwire