The Commercial Appeal, Mike Brown / AP

TSA agents seize record number of firearms at US airports in 2014

More than 2,000 illegally carried guns discovered at airports in 2014, more than triple the number in 2005

A record number of firearms were discovered by agents at U.S. airport security checkpoints in 2014, with more than four out of five of them loaded, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said Friday.

TSA figures show 2,212 guns were found in carry-on bags during screenings last year, represnting a 22 percent increase from 2013.

Ross Feinstein, a spokesman for the TSA, told Al Jazeera that the number of passengers traveling with firearms in their carry-on bag has been increasing every year since 2007. He added that the spike was down to more travelers attempting to carry guns in their hand luggage.

Passengers found to have a firearm in their carry-ons are subject to fines ranging from $3,000-$7,500, in addition to being detained at the airport where local authorities can make the decision to arrest.

In Texas, for example, packing a gun in one's hand luggage constitutes a third degree felony, according to Dallas police department's Lieutenant Emmitt Jackson.

TSA’s website explicitly bans firearms, ammunition and firearm parts from carry-on baggage. The top excuse, according to the TSA, given by gun-carrying passengers was that they forgot the firearm was in their carry-on. Blaming their spouse was the second most common excuse.

Some of the notable firearm incidents TSA reported were of a disassembled .22 caliber handgun that had been hidden in a PlayStation 2 console found at JFK and an assault rifle with three loaded magazines in Dallas.

Guns aren't the only poblem. TSA agents found an 8.5 inch knife hidden inside an enchilada in April 2014.

A hand grenade discovered at LAX forced the checkpoint to close while it was transported to an off-site location, and resulted in the delay of five flights.

Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport was the airport with the highest number of reported firearms in carry-on bags with 120 reported incidents, followed by Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport with 109.

The TSA, however, has also had some noticeable lapses in security. One month ago a gun smuggling ring was found to be trafficking firearms between Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport and New York City. A baggage handler who worked at Atlanta International was charged for bypassing metal detectors to help smuggle guns into secure areas in the airport. Last Friday TSA reported that an FAA employee was under investigation for using his credentials to bypass security while carrying a gun in his bag. Since then the FAA program allowing safety inspectors to skip security screening has been suspended.

Wire services. Elizabeth Mendez contributed reporting.

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