MOSCOW, August 11 (RIA Novosti) – The number of passengers who bring firearms in their carry-on luggage to the US airports has increased dramatically in the last two years, according to American Transportation Security Administration (TSA) statistics.
“More than a dozen years after 9/11, you’d think people’s awareness would be raised. But they continue to bring firearms and weapons to checkpoints every day. The numbers just keep going up,” Lisa Farbstein, a TSA spokeswoman, told Boston Globe on Monday.
Last year, the TSA discovered a total of 1,813 firearms in carry-on bags in airports around the country. This June, the number has already reached 1,025. Only last month a record of 18 guns were confiscated at US airport security checkpoints in one day, the newspaper reported.
“They don’t forget to put on their pants. They don’t forget to bring a toothbrush. But oh hey, they forgot they brought a gun? They’ve been on notice for this for 10 years, and it’s time to grow up and be responsible,” David Borer, general counsel for the American Federation of Government Employees, the union that represents more than 45,000 TSA workers, was quoted by Boston Globe as saying.
US authorities became alarmed by the issue last year after the death of TSA agent Gerardo Hernandez who was shot on duty at Los Angeles International Airport by a gunman, who also wounded two other TSA workers and one traveler.
According to Northwestern University report, 84 percent of guns confiscated in the US airports last year were loaded.
US citizens are allowed to carry firearms in their luggage only if they are not loaded, declared and locked in a special container. In case the TSA discovers a gun in the carry-on bag, the traveler will either be arrested or obliged to pay up to $7,500 in fines.
The top three most dangerous airports in the United States in terms of guns confiscations are the country’s busiest Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, where 46 firearms have been confiscated since the beginning of this year, the Phoenix Sky Harbor International – with 36 guns, and Tampa International – with 29 confiscated.