The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the agency responsible for screening airline passengers in the United States says it discovered 1,813 firearms in carry-on bags in 2013. That was up nearly 17 percent from 2012. Of those discovered, 81 percent were loaded, the TSA said in a blog post
The TSA also found a lot of strange items such as an inert suicide vest, a “gag” retirement gift designed to look like an improvised explosive device, 136 inert/novelty/replica grenades, a stun gun disguised to look like lipstick, numerous knives, cane swords and other weapons, including a mace.
In Fort Lauderdale, Florida, TSA officers found human skull fragments in a clay pot.
"TSA screens approximately 1.8 million passengers and their luggage every day for prohibited items, including weapons and explosives, a TSA spokesperson said in an email. “TSA takes the discovery of prohibited items seriously and urges all passengers to check the contents of their bags before leaving home to ensure they are not bringing any prohibited items to the airport — including firearms, firearm parts and ammunition.”
Loaded guns of various calibers were found strapped to passengers legs, sewn into the linings of a carry-on bags, and in one case, two guns were wrapped in newspaper and placed in a box of detergent powder in the passenger’s checked baggage, the TSA said.
In one case, a shotgun was found in a bag of checked golf clubs.
The number of illegal guns found by the TSA has been rising every year since 2005, when 660 were found, according to the TSA.
Once an illegal firearm is found, law enforcement is notified, the TSA said. Police then take possession of the weapon, interview the passenger and determine any criminal charges.
The TSA said it screened 638,705,790 passengers in 2013, 1,123,668 more than last year.
The TSA noted that 2013 was the first year one of its agents, Gerardo I. Hernandez, died in the line of duty during a shooting at Los Angeles International Airport last November.