Shirts, check! Pants, check! Socks, check! Underwear, check! Personal care items, check! Handgun, check! Time to head for the airport and my well-earned vacation.
Yes, you read the headline correctly. In spite of U.S. airline passenger boardings being reduced dramatically, oftentimes by as much as 90% due to COVID-19, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reported that 3,257 guns were seized at airport checkpoints last year. This equates to nearly 10 guns per one million passengers, and is double the five guns confiscated per one million passengers in 2019.
It may not sound like much at first, but in a normal year there are many days where close to three million travelers take to the skies in the U.S. Again, in a normal year that’s close to 15 guns being confiscated at airport checkpoints each day.
TSA regulations allow for airline travelers to fly with their guns in checked baggage if the weapons are declared at check-in and are properly packed. And would you believe that 83% of the guns detected at the TSA checkpoint were LOADED! Most were packed in carry-on bags, though some stable geniuses actually had a handgun on their person.
Excuse me, but what part of “NO, you cannot bring your gun, loaded or not, fully assembled or not, beyond the TSA checkpoint and certainly not into the cabin of your flight? In fact, most airports don’t allow weapons of any kind to be brought into the airport terminal, let alone onto a flight.
Airline and security experts are in general agreement that the increase is probably caused by the 2020 “typical” airline passenger demographic shifting from business and frequent leisure travelers, more to an increased percentage of less frequent fliers who may not be as familiar with airport screening processes. Additionally, there is the possibility that TSA is finding a higher percentage of carry-on guns due to there being far fewer passengers to screen, lending to a more thorough security process.
This sure makes one feel secure about airline travel, doesn’t it? Bullet-proof vest, check!