U.S. airports have been breaking records for total volume of passengers in the last few years.
Meanwhile, the Transportation Security Administration has been breaking records for the volume of firearms that security officers find on passengers and in their carry-on luggage.
Last year, TSA agents seized 3,391 firearms at the nation’s airports, a 28% increase from 2015. That’s an average of nine firearms a day.
Now, the TSA has set a fresh record. On Feb. 23, agents at various airports uncovered 21 firearms in a single day, breaking the previous one-day high of 18 firearms found on June 4, 2014.
A breakdown of the weapons and the airports where they were found points to no obvious pattern. The guns were uncovered in small airports, including Asheville, N.C., and at big hubs, including Washington Dulles International Airport.
Nine of the firearms were 9-millimeter handguns, and all but one were loaded, according to the TSA. When such weapons are found, TSA agents turn the firearm and the passenger over to local police.
TSA officials won’t speculate about whether the record-setting pace of firearm seizures is the result of more passengers traveling by air or improved screening methods. Or both.
Agency officials note that the TSA already has launched a concerted effort to educate travelers about the laws that forbid fliers from bringing any weapons — or replica weapons — into an airplane cabin.
“I think we have a pretty robust campaign as it is, with a very popular Instagram account, regular releases about gun finds and events across the country,” TSA spokesman Nico Melendez said. “With the rules readily available on our website, app and in newspapers, we’ve done and continue to do what we can to educate.”
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