Passengers tried to carry a record number of firearms on to planes in 2016.
The Transportation Security Administration found a total of 3,391 firearms being brought onto aircraft in carry-on baggage, 80-percent of which were loaded, according to the TSA’s annual report. The agency has discovered a “record” number guns for several years in a row, but “record” means little in this case: There’s no evidence that the TSA has actually thwarted any sinister plans. In fact, the last federal examination of the TSA found that it failed 95 percent of security tests.
While catching anyone trying to carry a gun onto a flight is a monumental feat, many of the guns the TSA found were owned by people who said they were licensed to carry. The agency told The Huffington Post that it doesn’t compile stats on how many of those guns were obtained illegally, carried by felons, or otherwise.
What we do know is that there’s a general consensus among Americans that more people should be required to get a background check to get a gun online, at a gun show, or elsewhere. We also know that even if someone follows the rules and checks in a gun the right way, that doesn’t necessarily guarantee passenger safety.
On Jan. 6, a gunman legally checked his 9mm handgun onto a flight headed for Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Upon landing he loaded the gun and shot 11 people at baggage claim, killing five of them.
The shooting sent members of congress screaming back to Washington in an attempt to change ― or at least revisit ― the rule that allowed a mentally disturbed man to legally bring a gun onto a flight.
Gun control advocates on Friday hailed the TSA’s work but are looking for more. Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, issued a statement:
“As the tragedy at Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood airport showed us, there are limits to the safety that security protocols can provide when we live in a nation that allows dangerous people to buy guns without a background check. The TSA’s report underscores the importance of taking action to keep guns out of dangerous hands. Nine out of ten Americans agree we can do that by expanding Brady background checks to all gun sales, so elected leaders have no excuse to delay this any longer. In fact, with 93 lives lost every day to gun violence, Congress has a moral imperative and a political mandate to act now.”
And while the TSA boasts a “record” number of discoveries each year, that might all be due to an increasing number of customers to screen. More than 738 million passengers were screened in 2016, which is 43 million more than in 2015.