Gun found at Atlanta airport security check-in earlier this month. SOURCE: Transportation Security Administration.
Some 1,024 guns were found at US airport passenger checkpoints by the Transportation Security Administration in the first six months of this year, up 14% from the same period last year and almost 50% from two years ago.
That translated to 5.6 guns per day, on average, with 84% of them loaded and nearly a third (29%) with ammunition in the chamber, ready to fire.
Once again, airports in the South and West — which tend to have most lenient concealed carry regulations — dominated the list of airports with the most guns found at security checkpoints. Dallas, Atlanta and Phoenix topped the list, followed by Tampa and Houston (Bush). Those 14 airports with the Top 10 number of guns found make up nearly 40% of all guns.
Like a number of other local stories prompted by the data, the station found that almost everyone who is caught either pleads to a misdemeanor or wound up with their cases dropped. And “I forgot” continues to be a popular excuse for having a concealed weapon at check-in to begin with.
The number of handguns confiscated at the nation’s airport security checkpoints was up 21% through May 1 compared to a year ago — and 45% compared to 2012, a National Security Zone analysis of Transportation Security Administration data it maintains shows.
Also trending up in the first part of the year: The percentage of guns that were loaded and that had a bullet in the chamber when they were discovered in carry-ons or on the passenger. Some 85% of guns were loaded compared to 82% a year ago, and 30% had a bullet in the chamber, up from 25% in the first part of 2013.
Overall suicides in the U.S. military were down just under 10% in 2013 over the year before, although there was slight increase (5%) among reservists and those not on active duty, new data from the Department of Defense shows.
With the wind-down in Afghanistan well under way, the gap between casualties and suicides grew even more dramatically, now nearly 4-1 vs. just under 2-1 the year before. (See chart below).
The data was part of the extensive annual “Suicide Event Report” that is put together by the National Center for Telehealth & Technology. The latest report covered calendar year 2012, while a news release about the report include top-level data for 2013. (Access a PDF of that report and earlier years back to 2008 here).
The U.S. Army halted what had been monthly updates of its suicide data after November data was posted in December. Reports suggest the Army is changing its methodology and will move to a quarterly instead of monthly release.
The Marines and Navy have, and continue to, release data each month, often updating the earlier month’s data. In 2013, Navy and Marine suicides fell, while attempted suicides by Marines jumped, based on the monthly data release.
For the Army in 2013, total suicides were on the decline but the percentage that were reservists had increased as a percentage of all suicides, from 40% to 50%. That data does not include December statistics, which have yet to be released.
The number of guns confiscated from passengers trying to board planes in the U.S. jumped 20% in 2013 to 1,828, with the Atlanta airport leading the way at 110 confiscations. Five guns were seized on the average day across the nation’s airports.
The vast majority of guns — 84% — were loaded when Transportation Security Administration agents discovered them during security screenings, and of those loaded, one in three had a bullet in the chamber, ready to fire.
The increase over 2012 is the third annual jump since 2010 — and the largest.
Data used in this story was gathered and analyzed by Medill National Security Journalism Initiative from weekly data releases the TSA makes on its blog. A TSA official said Friday that final figures will be released shortly. Final numbers tend to be slightly higher than those compiled by Medill because the weekly blog post data is not updated after it is posted.
Below is a heat map that illuminates location of airports where the most guns were found. Intensity in this heat map runs from lowest (light green) to highest (dark red) based on the number of guns confiscated.