Transportation Security Administration officers have confiscated more than 1,000 guns that were discovered by security personnel as passengers traveled through airport security screenings so far this year, the head of the TSA said.
“More than 10 years after the Sept. 11 attacks, people are still trying to bring deadly weapons into the cabin of an airplane,” TSA administrator John Pistole said at George Washington University’s Homeland Security Policy Institute.
“On Tuesday, just two days ago, we detected nine guns passengers had in their carry-on bags at various checkpoints around the country.” Pistole said.
Pistole showed several slides of drugs and weapons that passengers were attempting to bring or smuggle on board aircraft.
One slide showed a veritable arsenal allegedly taken from a man arrested at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport after, officials said, TSA officers discovered two handguns, three ammunition clips and eight knives in his bag last month.
According to one DHS official, the man claimed he forgot the weapons were in his bags.
“We have seen a slight increase in guns being brought to the checkpoint over the past few months,” said a TSA official. “We don’t keep stats on why passengers bring prohibited items to airports but, anecdotally, passengers typically say they forgot it was in their bag.”
In his speech, Pistole also hailed the use of the controversial advanced imaging technology, which some people call the “body scanners” deployed at airports.
“We continue to see the efficacy of advanced imaging technology,” he said. “While there is no silver bullet technology, this technology gives our officers the best opportunity to detect both metallic and non-metallic threats, including improvised explosive devices such as the device [accused underwear bomber] Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab attempted to detonate on Christmas day 2009.”
Pistole showed the audience a picture of a man who was attempting to smuggle 700 grams of cocaine by wrapping ace bandages around his legs. Pistole said the AIT machine had alerted screeners to an anomaly in the ankle area.
Pistole also highlighted a ceramic knife and a small packet of cocaine detected by the screening technology.