The TSA has been finding a lot more firearms lately, so many that 2012 set a record for confiscated firearms from the agency. Holy shit, right? Exactly why a record level of guns are being confiscated from airports seems like a pretty important national question.
Could be myriad reasons; is it better search techniques or more people trying to bring guns on planes? The TSA isn't sure. From the New York Times:
A record-setting 1,500 firearms were detected by security screeners in 2012, according to the agency. That number is up from about 1,300 in 2011. And nearly 85 percent of the weapons were loaded.
“It does concern us that this number is rising,” said Lisa Farbstein, an agency spokeswoman. “But we will not speculate on the causes.”
So the TSA found a smidge over 15 percent more guns nationwide in 2012, but it's not totally sure why. It could be that TSA screeners have gotten better at finding guns, or perhaps they've gotten better at finding undeclared guns (and the occasional rocket launcher) in checked baggage.
The Times story mentions an "uptick" in gun confiscations following the Newtown massacre, and NBC noted that confiscations rose during the latter half of last year. Perhaps more people are trying to sneak guns onto planes? Considering declaring and flying with a gun is relatively straightforward, a rise in people trying to skirt the system is cause for concern. (I've been reminded that more concealed carry laws have been passed recently, and people are forgetful, so maybe more people are carrying guns and forgetting about them.) Either way, the TSA doesn't want to take a guess.
With today's ridiculously vitriolic political environment about guns, I suppose I can't blame the agency for not wanting to take a stance. I mean, if the TSA were to actually say that more people were smuggling guns onto planes, the NRA would probably start lobbying to legalize carrying Tec-9s in coach. Take your shoes off and shuffle past the problem, please.