The Transportation Security Administration intercepted nearly 900 guns on passengers since the beginning of 2013, according to a report from the Associated Press. That number is up 30 percent compared to last year, and the vast majority of guns intercepted tend to be loaded.
The most common explanation passengers give officers when they get caught is, “I forgot it was there.” TSA agents discovered more than 200 guns in Texas airports, and an Atlanta airport saw 96, while small airports usually uncovered more guns in security than the larger airports.
But the reason why more people have been intercepted — and the TSA does not think these passengers are terrorists — might have something to do with the national debate on where and when guns should be allowed. Sociology professor Jimmy Taylor of Ohio University-Zanesville suggested that people accustomed to concealed carry expect to be able to bring weapons on-board because they are used to concealed carry in their states.
Sometimes TSA discovered the gun when a passenger took off his jacket at security, or they found a gun that is designed to look like a pen. A spokesman told the AP “sometimes you have to scratch your head,” because they cannot determine the motive or reason. Meanwhile, a number of states have loosened their gun laws this year, often affecting concealed carry, although none changed the airplane ban.
Ever since recent mass shootings prompted calls for gun violence prevention, gun advocates have sometimes toted guns publicly and openly to make a political statement. For example, one Utah man took his rifle and loaded Glock pistol to a JC Penney in January to show fellow customers that guns are not dangerous, and a Virginia pizza shop encouraged customers to carry their guns in for a discount.