Firearms aren’t allowed on commercial flights in the U.S., as almost anybody who’s been on a commercial flight in the U.S. can tell you. However, the number of travelers attempting to take guns through airport security is on the rise for the third year in a row, with TSA agents finding a record 1,828 guns on would-be travelers in 2013. That’s a 38 percent increase from 2010 and a 20 percent increase from last year alone. Out of all the guns found in 2013, one in three had a bullet in the chamber. Yeah.
While it’s impossible to say exactly what accounts for this uptick, gun laws have been receiving a whole lot of attention over the last year, and it’s hard not to wonder if the two phenomena are related. As Bustle reported on the anniversary of the shooting at Sandy Hook:
Reddit users at the Guns Are Cool subforum* have attempted to crowdsource every mass shooting in 2013, and in doing so, they defined a “mass shooting” as any incident wherein four or more people are shot. That sounds about right to us, although of course there’s no final word on this. The result of this effort — which is incredibly impressive and the only thing like it on the Internet — shows 349 mass shootings since the Jan. 1, 2013.
Mass shootings in America, then, are roughly as common as the sun rising.
The five airports where the most guns were discovered were Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth, Atlanta, Phoenix, and Denver. It's worth mentioning that with the exception of Atlanta, all of those airports are located in states that passed significant gun laws in the last year. Texas and Arizona both weakened gun regulations in 2013; Texas substantially so. Colorado went the other direction and passed a series of strict new gun control laws, but it didn’t do so without controversy — two state senators who voted for those laws were subsequently recalled from office, and a third resigned to avoid the same fate.
When the TSA finds a gun on a traveler, they don’t arrest them: rather, they refer the offender to local law enforcement. The result? The consequence of trying to take a gun on an aircraft is largely dependent on local laws. In some jurisdictions, they may be arrested or given a citation; in Texas, they’re given a certificate of appreciation by Governor Rick Perry (not really). On average, around five guns are found on airline travelers every day.
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