TSA found 4,432 firearms in passengers' carry-on baggage last year—its highest number ever. As Fox News points out, that's a dozen firearms per day, and 87% of those firearms were loaded. Thirty-four percent of them actually had rounds in the chamber. The total number confiscated is a 5% increase from 2018, and TSA Administrator David Pekoske said the uptick is "deeply troubling." But one aviation security expert tells the Washington Post that without additional context, it's not entirely clear what the numbers mean: They could be a reflection of something positive ("the TSA is doing a better job" of screening and finding guns) or something negative ("why are more firearms being brought to checkpoints?").
One missing piece of context in particular, he says, is just how many checkpoints there are: TSA doesn't make that info public, but there were a lot fewer 18 years ago when the agency was first established. Another expert says the trend may reflect something else entirely: "People are carrying guns and don’t even remember they’re carrying them, it says everything about the reality of the concealed-carry movement." How concerned should you be? Slate addresses just that question, and talks to an expert who notes that a 2.8% increase in air travelers last year, plus improved screening techniques, likely contributed to the uptick. "If they collected 10,000 guns, would you feel safer? Or if they collected 10 guns?" he says. "If it went down, people would be concerned that they’re not doing a good job. If it’s going up, [people ask], ‘Why is it going up?’" (Read more Transportation Security Administration stories.)