The Americans broke a new record last year, but it's nothing to write home about. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) found 4,239 firearms in hand luggage in 2018, breaking the previous record of 2017. That's an average of more than 11 guns a day.
The number of 2018 guns found by the TSA in Canada increased by about 7 percent from 2017, when 3,957 were found at TSA checkpoints, the agency said in a press release. However, the most worrying statistic could be that 86 percent of the guns discovered by the TSA last year were loaded. Even more shocking, according to TSA, "nearly 34 percent had a bullet in the chamber." Yikes.
From the TSA:
The top five airports at which TSA officers found weapons at checkpoints in 2018 were: Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International with 298; Dallas / Fort Worth International with 219; Phoenix Sky Harbor International with 129; Denver International at 126 and Orlando International at 123.
Americans can legally fly firearms, but they must be unloaded and locked in checked baggage. Also reproduced weapons and toy weapons must be in the checked baggage according to federal law.
Attempting to transport a weapon on an airplane is considered civil and not criminal under federal law, and if caught you may face fines of up to $ 13,000. But the TSA agents are not really attacking the weapons they find. That's the job of the local police.
"I like to call it weapon detection," said TSA regional spokesman Mark J. Howell over the phone to Gizmodo. "If we find these firearms, we block the trail until the prosecution passes. They take the firearm out of the machine and remove the person from the checkpoint. "
Whether the local law enforcement authorities simply cite or arrest the person with the gun depends on state law. But in any case, the gun owner is punished with a federal penalty.
"We collect the information from [the gun owner] and then give them a civilian death sentence in the post office," Howell adds, adding that about a month goes by for these quotes. "Any confiscation is a decision of the law enforcement agencies."
"Some of them have to go to court to get back [the gun]others bring them back, but this decision is made by local law enforcement."
The latest version of the TSA also contains a breakdown of the last decade, which is pretty depressing. In 2008, only 928 guns were found nationwide by TSA agents. And the numbers got worse year by year.
Americans love weapons in ways that are unbelievably unusual in the developed world. And as long as they're legal – do you remember when President Obama should take all his weapons away? – They will be something that air travelers will live with in the near future.
The best you can hope for is that guns do not come through the safety as they did in Atlanta recently. A woman arrived at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on January 3 of this year with a gun and made it to Tokyo's Narita International Airport in Tokyo, according to The Washington Post.
At first, some people speculated that this might be related to the government shutdown, but the TSA rejected this suggestion, saying that "the national one-year quota was a year higher than this year's that day." It's really hard to catch any weapon that runs through American airports. Every day there are at least 11, and if the past decade is a clue, this number in 2019 will only be higher.