TSA agents find record number of guns at airport screenings

Transportation Safety Agency officials seized a record number of firearms at the nations airports last year and most of them were loaded.

In its 2106 year in review, the TSA outlined the number of weapons – and other banned items – agents found at 239 airports as they screened more than 738 million passengers.

Last year, they seized 3,391 firearms, an increase of 28 percent over the 2015, when 2,653 guns were found. Of those taken in 2016, about 83 percent of the weapons were loaded.

Three southern cities top the list where most firearms were found.

At Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, agents uncovered the most number of firearms — 198,  87 percent of which were loaded — that passengers carried into screening checkpoints.

Dallas/Fort Worth International agents found 192, firearms with 77 percent loaded. Officials seized 128 guns found at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, 92 percent loaded.

Rounding out the top five were two western airports. Phoenix Sky Harbor International agents found 101 guns with 90 percent loaded. At Denver International Airport, agents discoverd 98 weapons, 82 percent of them loaded. 

Regionally, 19 guns were found in Philadelphia with 68 percent, or 13, of them loaded. Pittsburgh agents found 22 firearms with 68 percent, or 15, loaded.  In Newark, 8 guns were found, five loaded. Baltimore had 24 weapons uncovered with 14 loaded. Only seven firearms were found at New York City's airports: five, two loaded, at JFK International Airport and two, both loaded, at Laguardia Airport.

Passengers often attempt to disguise or hide the contraband weapons, the TSA said. Agents regularly find sword canes, and knives, disguised as credit cards, belt buckles and  hair brushes,  to name a few. There are also a disturbing amount of hand grenades – most inert – that passengers bring to airports.

And for those of you who wonder about the point of taking off your shoes, because there has only been one attempted shoe bomber, agents often find knives concealed in footwear, the TSA said.