Agents seized 28 percent more guns last year than the year before, and the number is rising again this year. The Transportation Security Administration can’t explain why.
The number of guns seized at Baltimore’s BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport is climbing sharply, mirroring a years-long increase at airports across the country, the Baltimore Sun reports. Seizures in Baltimore rose 20 percent in 2016, and are on pace to climb another 33 percent this year. Nationwide, they increased last year by nearly 28 percent. The Transportation Security Administration doesn’t know why seizures are rising. “It’s a trend that’s very concerning,” TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said. “It’s a trend we’d like to see go in the opposite direction.”
The numbers remain small: TSA agents confiscated 24 guns at BWI in 2016. They have increased four straight years, outpacing the growth in air passengers through the region’s busiest airport. Nationwide, TSA agents confiscated 3,391 firearms — an average of more than nine per day — in 2016, more than double the number seized in 2012. Federal law allows air passengers to travel with unloaded firearms only in checked baggage. They must be packed, unloaded, into a locked, hard-sided container. Guns and ammunition must be declared at the ticket counter when the baggage is checked.Most of the firearms seized at BWI this year have been small handguns left in purses or other carry-on luggage. Farbstein said the reasons for the increases are unclear. The most common excuses given for being found with a gun are that the passenger forgot he or she was carrying it, or that someone else — typically, a spouse or partner — packed the bag.