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As Air Travel Slowed, Gun Seizures Rose; New Passenger Mix Cited

Air travel slowed significantly during the pandemic but irresponsible travelers taking guns to airports increased, the Washington Post reports. In 2021, the Transportation Security Administration caught 5,972 firearms at airport checkpoints, the most ever. That’s an increase of more than one-third over the 4,432 guns found in 2019, the next highest year. The number of firearms found has soared by more than six times since 2008. In 2019, the TSA said it found one firearm for every 197,358 passengers. In 2021, that rate doubled to one firearm detected for every 97,999 passengers. This “status quo is simply unacceptable,” said Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ.), chairwoman of the House Homeland Security subcommittee on transportation and maritime security, which has explored ways to reduce the number of guns being seized at airports. The reason the number of guns rose as passenger traffic fell isn’t clear. Higher gun sales might be a factor. So might the changing nature of passengers. As airlines dropped ticket prices to attract customers, more passengers who ordinarily don’t fly took to the skies as business and frequent fliers stayed home. "They aren’t as familiar with the rules, nor are they accustomed to checking for prohibited items before going to the airport,” said Jeffrey Price, an aerospace professor at Metropolitan State University of Denver. “That’s the most common rationale given for the increase.”

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