The only thing surprising about the fact that TSA agents confiscate a ton of loaded weapons from passengers attempting to board aircraft at D/FW International Airport is that Atlanta apparently confiscates more of them. Houston comes in third, nationally, behind us.
So says the Medill National Security Journalism Initiative, which compiled TSA data and created a ranking that tells us that some folks around here really do think they can carry anywhere, even at 30,000 feet. And most of them don't even bother emptying the chamber or ejecting the loaded clip.
They confiscated 110 guns in Atlanta, and another 98 at D/FW. The number of guns, mostly 9 mm and .380s, recovered during security screenings has risen three years in a row now. You can fly with a gun, of course, but it has to be in checked baggage and stored properly -- not on your person and loaded. Some 84 percent were loaded, and a cursory glance over this spreadsheet reveals that many of them had rounds chambered, ready to fire.
The data doesn't get any more finely granulated than that. Who knows how many people actually didn't realize you can't fly with a firearm, and how many simply forgot they were packing. Ted Nugent's wife, Shemane Ann, was arrested in August for stowing one in her carry-on. Her lawyer said it was an honest mistake.
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Tough to say what to make of these numbers. Gun ownership has been declining steadily since the 1970s, according to the nonpartisan National Opinion Research Center. Yet on the extreme end of that spectrum, brandishing weapons in public like open-carry radicals with their long arms has become something of a personal statement. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia calls it "afrighting."