The Transportation Security Administration expects to see a record number of passengers bring guns to U.S. airports this year, on the basis of a surge in gun collections at security checkpoints in July, an agency spokeswoman told the Washington Examiner on Friday.
TSA's 44,000 officers collected 1,861 firearms in the first six months of 2017, according to data the agency provided.
In 2016, a total of 3,391 firearms were seized from airport passengers' carry-on bags. If this year's rate continues through December, TSA should expect to find 3,722 guns by the end of the year.
"The number-one excuse that people give us for why they have their gun with them at a checkpoint is that they forgot that they had their gun with them. The second-most common excuse is that their husband or wife packed their bag. Neither of those excuses fly," said TSA Acting Director of Media Relations Lisa Farbstein.
The vast majority of firearms that travelers bring to checkpoints are loaded. For example, from Aug. 14-20, 66 of the 76 firearms TSA officers found were loaded.
Since 2010, the number of firearms seized by airport security agents has continually risen and set a new record every year. The end of year forecast for 2017 could more than triple 2010 numbers.
In 2010, 1,123 firearms were found, which will likely be one-third of the number found this year.
The number of firearms climbed to 1,549 in 2012, jumped to 2,212 in 2014, and then jumped to 2,653 in 2015.
The agency is responsible for screening 4.9 million carry-on items every day.
Firearm possession laws vary with state and local laws. However, firearms must be unloaded and locked in a hard-sided container and transported as checked baggage.
All parts, including ammunition, must be declared at the airline ticket counter during the check-in process. Those who do not follow the law can be arrested and fined up to $11,000.