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US Airports Are Seeing a Spike in Gun Seizures



While passenger air travel volumes are still a far cry from what they were before COVID-19 struck, the number of flyers traveling through U.S. airports reached an almost five-month high over this past weekend.

At the same time, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is reporting a bizarre increase in the number of firearms being seized from carry-on bags at airport checkpoints, with guns being seized at a rate of three times higher than before the pandemic—and 80 percent of those guns are loaded.

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In July, officers discovered 15.3 guns per every million passengers screened, compared with 5.1 per million in the same month of 2019, TSA reported today.

TSA Administrator David Pekoske told ABC News that TSA screening officers are already working in conditions where risks are higher than normal and that “no one should be introducing new ones.” In a statement, he said, “Even more concerning is that 80 percent of the firearms coming into the checkpoint are loaded, and it’s just an accident waiting to happen.”

Although it’s legal to transport firearms in checked baggage, provided that they are unloaded and stored in a locked case, there are federal civil penalties for toting a gun in your carry-on luggage. Violating the rules can cost you travel privileges like your TSA Precheck status, but any criminal charges are usually left to the discretion of local authorities.

The increase in such discoveries at airport security coincides with a spike in gun sales observed in June and July. Cowen analyst Cai von Rumohr has speculated that a disproportionate rise in handgun sales during the past few months indicates that many of these purchases are being made by first-time buyers.

FBI data showed that over 3.6 million background checks for firearms were requested in July, representing a 79 percent increase over July of last year. Although the amount of background checks requested has been rising in year-over-year comparisons since April 2019, the rate has really picked up this year, with the numbers topping three million during four out of the last five months. Prior to this, checks hadn’t reached over three million in a single month since December 2015.

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