Here is a top 10 list Twin Cities residents can be happy we are not on — the list of airports where federal Transportation Security Administration agents confiscated the most firearms in 2015.
They found plenty of firearms in carry-on baggage nationwide last year — 2,653 to be exact, or an average of seven per day. That was a 20 percent increase over the 2,212 found in 2014 and continues a steady rise over the past decade. In 2005, agents found just 660.
What might be as equally alarming is that 83 percent of the firearms seized last year were loaded, according to the TSA.
Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport led the way with 153 intercepted guns followed closely by Atlanta (144) and Bush Intercontinental in Houston (100), Denver (90) and Phoenix (73). Nashville and Seattle-Tacoma (59); Dallas Love Field (57); Austin, Texas (54) and Houston Hobby (52) rounded out the top 10.
In comparison, 23 were found at Minneapolis-St. Paul International, the TSA said.
Overall, guns were found at 236 airports nationwide, 12 more than last year.
The jump in illegal firearms could be a result of a huge increase in the number of people flying. TSA agents screened 708 million passengers, up 40.7 million from the previous year. And more passengers mean more bags.
In 2015, TSA scanned 1.6 billion carry-on bags in addition to 432 million checked bags.
Of course, firearms get most of the headlines, but TSA agents found many other hazardous items in travelers’ suitcases — everything from live smoke grenades to knives to marijuana concealed in candy wrappers.
In Orlando, one traveler concealed two handguns, one unassembled rifle, and an unidentified amount of ammunition inside three amplifiers in a checked bag.
The TSA found that passengers went to great lengths to hide their contraband. One passenger tried to conceal a multi-tool inside a hollowed out shaving cream can. Another tried slipping one by in a flashlight.
Perhaps the oddest find was a stowaway dog that turned up in checked luggage at New York’s LaGuardia Airport.
Considering the volume of passengers and the volume of prohibited items TSA agents find, it’s amazing how fast the security lines move. Less than 2 percent of passengers waited in line longer than 20 minutes, the TSA said.