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Number Of Guns Confiscated By TSA Jumped By 20 Percent In 2013: Study

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From Jan. 1st to Dec. 26th in 2013, the TSA saw a 20 percent increase from the previous year in the amount of guns it confiscated in the U.S. from passengers trying to smuggle them into their carry-ons.

In 2013, a total of 1,828 guns -- the highest amount recorded since the TSA began tracking smuggled firearms -- were confiscated across the nation's airports, according to a recently released analysis of TSA data by the Medill National Security Journalism Initiative.

The increase in seized handguns is the third and largest annual jump since 2010.

While it's legal for travelers to transport unloaded firearms as checked baggage, it is illegal to carry a handgun aboard a commercial airliner. The TSA has to notify local authorities when a gun is discovered at security checkpoints, who determine whether to make an arrest, issue a ticket or take other action.

Of the guns seized, 84 percent were loaded and one in three of those guns already had a bullet in the chamber, prepared to fire.

In first days of 2014, the TSA already confiscated at least 27 guns, 21 of which were loaded and five had rounds chambered.

Here are the top 10 airports with the most gun confiscations last year:

  • 10
    McCarran International Airport -- Las Vegas, NV
    Getty Images
    Located just five miles outside of downtown Las Vegas, McCarran International Airport seized 39 guns in 2013, 72 percent of which were loaded. The most frequently confiscated gun at McCarran was a 9mm. Of the 39 total guns that were seized, only two were unloaded. Back in April, a doctor was even arrested at McCarran with a gun in his carry-on bag.
  • 9
    Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood Int'l Airport -- Ft. Lauderdale, FL
    Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport confiscated 42 guns in 2013, of which 88 percent were loaded. The Sun-Sentinel even penned an editorial this year asking for increased penalties for gun-toting passengers after TSA revealed that more guns had been confiscated at the airport than any other airport in Florida, including the state's more populous airports. The most frequently confiscated gun was the 380, which was found loaded every time one was confiscated.
  • 8
    Seattle-Tacoma International Airport -- Seattle, WA
    AP
    Seattle-Tacoma International Airport confiscated a total of 46 guns in 2013, of which 76 percent were loaded. Among the weapons that were confiscated by TSA at the airport was the .38-caliber pistol owned by 11-time NBA champion and Hall of Fame center Bill Russell, who was arrested in October. Russell later apologized for carrying the loaded gun, saying he "had accidentally left a legal firearm in my bag."
  • 7
    Orlando International Airport -- Orlando, FL
    The TSA confiscated 47 guns at Orlando International Airport last year, of which 83 percent were loaded. The 47th seizure occurred on New Year's Eve when a man tried to board a flight to Atlanta with a loaded .45-caliber pistol
  • 6
    Nashville International Airport -- Nashville, TN
    Nashville International Airport had the highest percentage of confiscated loaded guns last year. The TSA seized 49 guns from airport passengers in 2013, and warns that people can face criminal charges with up to $11,000 in fines for trying to board a plane with a gun.
  • 5
    Denver International Airport -- Denver, CO
    Denver International Airport ranks as the fifth busiest airport in the nation, and is also the fifth for gun confiscations last year by TSA. Agents seized 52 guns from passengers last year, of which 83 percent were loaded.
  • 4
    Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport -- Phoenix, AZ
    Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport confiscated 65 guns from its passengers last year -- or one every five or six days -- of which 86 percent were loaded. But a case at Sky Harbor helps shed some light on why airport policies on guns can be confusing. Earlier this year a man caused alarm and outrage at the airport for bringing his rifle into the Phoenix airport with his 12-year-old son in tote, who had a pistol strapped to his waist just days after TSA officer Gerardo Hernandez was gunned down at LAX with a semi-automatic rifle. However, the two were in an unsecured area of the airport and officials said the two had broken no rules.
  • 3
    George Bush Intercontinental Airport -- Houston, TX
    AP
    Named for the 41st President of the United States, George Bush Intercontinental Airport confiscated 67 guns from its passengers in 2013, of which 91 percent were loaded.
  • 2
    Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport -- Dallas, TX
    Getty Images
    Located almost four hours north of Houston, the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport seized 98 guns from passengers in 2013, of which 84 percent were loaded. Most of the guns that were confiscated at the airport were the .380-caliber and 9mm, of which one in four had a bullet in the chamber. Perhaps most memorable was the arrest of Ted Nugent's wife, Shermane Nugent at the airport in August for trying to transport a gun in her carry-on. Still, the report doesn't deal with other weapons that have been confiscated at the airport including a “dagger belt buckle” that was seized from a passenger earlier in 2013, or the knife found in a passenger's shoe.
  • 1
    Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport -- Atlanta, GA
    AP
    Topping the list for most guns confiscated from passengers attempting to bring their guns with them in their carry-ons is Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. The airport seized 110 guns in 2013, of which 88 percent were loaded and 34 percent were chambered. According to a press release by the airport, Hartsfield-Jackson has also been labeled the world's busiest airport for 15 consecutive years.

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