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Sea-Tac among top 10 airports for passengers with guns

The large window inside Sea-Tac Airport. An analysis from the Associated Press finds the number of passengers trying to go through a security checkpoint with a gun last year was up 17 percent from the previous year. (Linda Thomas photo)

More than a couple dozen times last year, passengers at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport tried to walk through security check points with loaded guns.

An AP investigation finds last year TSA screeners found 1,549 firearms on passengers attempting to go through screening, up 17 percent from the year before.

In the first six months of this year, the TSA found 894 guns on passengers or in their carry-ons. That’s a 30 percent increase over the same period last year.

In May, the TSA set a record seizing 65 guns in one week – 45 were loaded.

Even TSA screeners aren’t sure why people think they can get through with weapons, considering a large bottle of shampoo would be confiscated and dumped. They speculate that people are so used to carrying a gun they simply forget.

In one case, a passenger took off his jacket to go through a screening in Sacramento, revealing he was wearing a shoulder holster with a loaded 9 mm pistol in it. The same passenger had three more loaded pistols in his carry-on duffel bag, 192 rounds of ammunition, two magazines and three knives.

Some people have tried to sneak things by the security screeners. At a North Carolina airport, a loaded .45-caliber pistol was hidden under the lining of a carry-on bag.

Passengers are allowed to take guns with them when they fly, but only as checked baggage. They are required to fill out a form declaring the weapons and to carry them in a hard-sided bag with a lock.

What do TSA screeners do when they discover the weapons? Some people are arrested, others will have their guns handed back to them so they can take it to a car or give it to someone who is not flying.

SeaTac is number 10 on the list of airports with the most guns last year with 37.

Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta had the most for any airport, at 96.

Five of top airports are in Texas: Dallas-Fort Worth, 80 guns; George Bush in Houston, 52; Dallas Love Field, 37; William P. Hobby in Houston, 35, and Austin-Bergstrom International, 33.

Phoenix Sky Harbor had 54 passengers with guns try to get past screeners. Denver had 39. The other top airports were in Florida: Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood,42; Orlando 36, and Tampa, 33.

Looking at smaller airports, three weapons were discovered through security checks at Walla Walla Regional Airport.

By contrast, at John F. Kennedy in New York, where TSA screened nearly 27 million passengers last year, there was a single passenger found to have a gun.

Here is a link to the full AP story More air passengers show up withguns, by Joan Lowy.


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