U.S. officials intercepted a record number of airline passengers last year preparing to board planes carrying firearms, most of them loaded.
The U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said in a news release Thursday that 2,653 guns were found in carry-on bags in 2015, a 20 percent increase over the previous year, which had been a record. More than 82 percent of the confiscated weapons were loaded.
TSA screened 708 million passengers in 2015, 40 million more than in 2014.
"The transport of firearms by commercial air in carry-on bags represents a threat to the safety and security of air travelers," said TSA Administrator Peter V. Neffenger, adding that "through increased training in detection methods, our officers are becoming more adept at intercepting these prohibited items."
Most of the firearm discoveries in 2015 were at international airports around the country. Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, topped the list with 153; Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta, Georgia, 144; Houston, Texas, George Bush Airport, 100; Denver, Colorado, 90, and Phoenix, Arizona, 73.
Weapons of any kind are prohibited in carry-on bags. However, passengers may take guns with them on planes if they are in checked bags, unloaded, properly packed and declared to the airline.