1,238 guns found at airport checkpoints in 2011...quote TSA's John Pistole
By Bart Jansen, USA TODAY
More people are being caught at the nation's airports with guns in their carry-on bags, despite heightened awareness about security.
The Transportation Security Administration says it found 1,238 firearms — an average of almost four a day — at its airport checkpoints last year. The number has been on the rise since 2007.
"Clearly just the fact that we are getting four to five guns every day indicates that there are people who are not focused on the security protocols," TSA Administrator John Pistole [that's his name, pistole ] told Congress in November, a month when officers found nine guns in a single day.
The TSA says guns usually are found in carry-on bags that are X-rayed at security checkpoints.
Pistole says full-body scanning machines also detect contraband hidden beneath passengers' clothing, including a .38-caliber handgun in one man's ankle holster in Detroit.
"More than 10 years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks people are still trying to bring deadly weapons into the cabin of an airplane," he says.
Passengers are required to declare their guns and then store them unloaded in hard containers in their checked bags.
The common reply from passengers when caught with a gun is that they forgot they were carrying one, the TSA says. That's what the 73-year-old man with the ankle holster said Dec. 10, Detroit Metropolitan Airport spokesman Michael Conway says.
Same goes for a Georgia man, who was charged Dec. 11 with carrying a weapon at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport after TSA officers found a loaded revolver in his messenger bag. The .22-caliber gun went off as police officers tried to unload it.