- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A record 18 guns were confiscated at U.S. airport security checkpoints on one day this month, alarming homeland security officials tasked with protecting millions of passengers. 

The confiscations were recorded on June 5, according to the U.S. Transportation Security Agency — and a day later, two passengers were arrested after bringing loaded handguns into Virginia airports.

On Monday, a Fairfax County man was cited by police after trying to bring a loaded gun through a security checkpoint at Washington Dulles International Airport – the third gun TSA has detected at that airport this year.

Last week alone, 36 firearms were discovered in carry-on baggage across the country, 33 being loaded and seven had rounds chambered, TSA said in its weekly blog.

The number of guns coming through security checkpoints is alarming officials, especially since the death of TSA agentGerardo Hernandez who was killed at Los Angeles International Airport last year – marking the first time a TSA agent died in the line of duty. Mr. Hernandez was shot dead by a rampaging gunman that left two other TSA officers and one traveler wounded.

Congressman Richard Hudson, a North Carolina Republican, has introduced a bill to address some of the issues brought to the forefront after the fata shooting of Mr. Hernandez. The measure would call on the TSA to reach out to airports to make sure they have terrorism reaction plans and then report to Congress on “the overall level of preparedness at airports nationwide” and training to deal with active-shooter situations.

Last year, the U.S. Transportation Safety Administration found, on average, nearly five firearms a day concealed in the carry-on bags of people traveling through security checkpoints across the country – a 17 percent increase from the year prior.

In 2013, agents discovered 1,813 firearms in carry on luggage while screening baggage, compared with 1,556 the year prior. Of the guns recovered by the agency, the vast majority – 81 percent – were loaded, according to TSA’s blog.

The top five worst offending airports were Atlanta, where 111 guns were discovered, followed by Dallas Fort-Worth, Houston, Phoenix and then Denver, the blog said.

One passenger traveling through Pittsburgh, opted out of of a full body screening, only to be found in a pat-down by agents carrying a loaded .45 caliber pistol with six rounds and one chambered strapped to his ankle. In another case in Salt Lake City, after screening detected an abnormality, a pat down disclosed a passenger trying to hide a .22 caliber firearm inside the boot.

Officers at Boston Logan Airport discovered a fully disassembled 30-30 rifle concealed within the lining of a carry on bag and taped to the straps. After police ran a check on the rifle, they found it had been stolen.

Other firearm hiding spots included a toolbox, golf bag, and in a box of detergent powder concealed in checked baggage, the TSA said.