The Transportation Security Administration reported 1,105 firearms have been found at airport security checkpoints this year, on a pace to top 2011's total of 1,320. The agency said 1,123 guns were found in 2010.
Firearms sales have seen similar growth across the nation, The New York Times reported Friday.
Requests for background checks through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System of the FBI in 2011 was 16.4 million, up from 14.4 million in 2010 and 8.9 million in 2001, FBI data show.
Guns discovered at airport checkpoints reflect "the pervasiveness of concealed-carry weapons, which have gone up enormously in the last 10 years because concealed permits have got easier to get," said Matt Bennett, a co-founder of Third Way, a Washington research group that provides centrist views on divisive topics.
David Castelveter, a spokesman for the TSA, said most travelers who try to bring their guns with them through airport security do so unintentionally.
"I'm a Vietnam vet, and when I went through training I was taught that my gun was my best friend -- and God forbid you should ever lose sight of that fact. I would never, ever not know that I have a gun in my bag," he said.