1,813 People Tried to Bring Firearms Through TSA Checkpoints in 2013

81 percent were loaded.
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Transportation Security Administration

Trying to bring a gun onto a plane seems crazy.

And yet, it happens with startling frequency, about five times a day according to new stats on the Transportation Security Administration's blog

In 2013, the TSA discovered 1,813 firearms at their checkpoints. Eighty-one percent were loaded. That's up from 1,556 confiscations in 2012. 

Here are just a few of the stories:

loaded .380 pistol with eight rounds was discovered on the lower left leg of a passenger at Bradley Hartford (BDL) after the weapon alarmed the Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT).

loaded .45 caliber pistol with six rounds and one chambered was discovered strapped to the ankle of a Pittsburgh (PIT) passenger during a pat-down after he had opted out of AIT.  

.25 caliber firearm loaded with 10 rounds was discovered hidden under the lining of a carry-on bag at Cedar Rapids (CID).

A passenger at Salt Lake City (SLC) received a pat-down after an anomaly was detected during advanced imaging technology screening. During the pat-down, officers discovered a fully loaded .22 caliber firearm inside his boot.
Using imaging technology, a .380 pistol loaded with seven rounds and one chambered was discovered in the pocket of a passenger at Dallas Fort Worth (DFW).

In one single year, 111 people in Atlanta tried to get on a plane with a gun.

What I can't figure out is who puts a .38 in his pocket and tries to walk through a TSA checkpoint? How can this be worth the risk of detection? Is it so routine to carry a gun that it can be forgotten in a pocket, like a phone or loose change?

I'm left thinking that either the technology is very effective and catches almost everyone who is dumb enough to try to board a plane with a gun. Or it's really terrible and many people bring guns on planes all the time, and therefore the people packing don't consider it a great risk. 

Let's just hope theory one is correct.

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Presented by

Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science website in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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