Mon | Sep 28, 2020

Air traffic down, gun seizures up at US airports

Published:Monday | August 10, 2020 | 12:31 PM
A lone traveler heads to the north security checkpoint in the main terminal of Denver International Airport Wednesday, July 22, 2020, in Denver. (AP Photo/David

DALLAS (AP) — With air traffic nearing a five-month high, airport security is finding guns in passenger carry-on bags at three times the rate recorded before the pandemic.

And 80% of the guns are loaded.

The discoveries at airports comes at a time when US gun sales are surging, and analysts believe many of those purchases are being made by first-time buyers.

Officers found 15.3 guns for every million people screened in July, compared with 5.1 per million people in July of last year, the Transportation Security Administration said Monday.

There has been a significant increase in loaded guns at checkpoints, said TSA Administrator David Pekoske. He said screeners are already working in conditions of heightened risks and that “no one should be introducing new ones.”

“Even more concerning is that 80% of the firearms coming into the checkpoint are loaded, and it’s just an accident waiting to happen,” Pekoske said in a prepared statement.

After an extended lull in activity, gun sales have begun to surge in recent months.

FBI figures show that there were more than 3.6 million firearms background checks requested in July, a 79% increase from July 2019.

Background checks have been rising every month compared with a year earlier since April 2019, but they picked up even faster this year, with checks topping 3 million in four of the last five months. Checks had not exceeded 3 million in one month since December 2015.

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