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Gun seizures at U.S. airports up nearly 30 percent in '16, TSA says

The TSA said the vast majority of the guns seized in 2016, 83 percent, were loaded.

By
Doug G. Ware
A snapshot of the guns that were found and seized at U.S. airports in 2016. The TSA said Thursday that a total of 3,391 firearms were found in carry-on luggage last year -- and the vast majority, 83 percent, were loaded. Photo courtesy U.S. Transportation Security Administration
A snapshot of the guns that were found and seized at U.S. airports in 2016. The TSA said Thursday that a total of 3,391 firearms were found in carry-on luggage last year -- and the vast majority, 83 percent, were loaded. Photo courtesy U.S. Transportation Security Administration

WASHINGTON, Jan. 12 (UPI) -- More than 700 additional firearms were found and confiscated at U.S. airports in 2016 than were the year before, the Transportation Security Administration said Thursday.

In all, 3,391 firearms were seized by screeners nationwide last year -- an increase of 738, or 28 percent, from 2015, the TSA said in a blog post. The weapons were packed in carry-on luggage, which is against federal law.

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Firearms may be stored in checked luggage, separate from ammunition, but they must be declared and reported to the airline.

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The agency said the vast majority of the guns seized, 83 percent, were loaded -- and the confiscations occurred at 238 airports, two more than in 2015.

The airport with the most firearm seizures was Atlanta's Hartsfield International (198) -- followed by Dallas-Fort Worth (192), Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport (128), Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (101) and Denver International Airport (98).

Airports in Orlando, Salt Lake City and Nashville also made the top 10.

In addition to firearms, the TSA said screeners also confiscated other hazardous items like gun powder, knives, swords and throwing stars.

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In many cases, the TSA said, passengers attempted to hide the banned items.

"TSA officers regularly find sword canes, credit card knives, belt buckle knives, comb/brush knives, knives hidden in shoes, knives hidden in thermoses and knives hidden under the bag lining near the handle mechanism," the agency said.

"Keep in mind that far more was discovered than those listed in this report."

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