A record number of firearms was found at U.S. airport security checkpoints in 2014, and more than four out of five guns were loaded, the Transportation Security Administration said on Friday.
The number of firearms leapt 22 percent to an all-time high of 2,212 last year, more than triple the number in 2005, the TSA said in its 2014 summary. Eighty-three percent of guns were loaded.
Among the weapons discovered were an assault rifle with three loaded magazines and a loaded folding-stock rifle with two loaded magazines – both at airports in Dallas, Texas.
A loaded .38-caliber revolver was found at New York’s La Guardia airport clipped to a 94-year-old man’s belt.
Federal law bars bringing a firearm to an airport.
“The most common excuse that we hear from people is that they forgot they had their firearms with them,” said TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein.
The number-two excuse for passengers was “‘my husband packed my bag’ or ‘my wife packed my bag,'” she said.
Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport was the top airport for guns discovered, at 120. It was followed by Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, with 109, and Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, with 78.
Besides firearms, TSA officers found an Mk 2 fragmentation grenade in Los Angeles, a homemade avalanche control charge in Alaska, as well as fireworks, propane, spear guns, a flare gun, more than 700 stun guns, and smoke grenades.
Bag searches turned up inert explosives and artillery shells, an improvised explosives training kit, a replica Claymore anti-personnel mine, grenade launcher practice rounds and an unloaded cannon barrel.
Officers discovered contraband drugs, razor blades, brass knuckles, throwing stars, scissors and countless knives. An 8.5-inch (21.6-cm) knife hidden in an enchilada was found at the Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport in California.
TSA screened more than 653 million passengers in 2014, up 14.8 million from a year earlier, the statement said.
(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Bernadette Baum)