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Three dozen guns seized at BWI, region's other airports in 2014

37 guns were found at the region's 3 airports in 2014

More than three dozen guns were seized from passengers flying out of the three airports in the Baltimore-Washington region in 2014, a substantial increase over the year prior.

The Transportation Security Administration said Friday that it took 14 guns at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport in 2014, 14 at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, and 9 at Washington Dulles International Airport. In 2013, 27 guns were seized: 13 at BWI, 6 at Reagan and 8 at Dulles.

No firearms have been seized at any of the region's three airports so far in 2015, the TSA said.

The upticks in this region in 2014 mirrored a national increase in the number of firearms taken from carry-on luggage at airports across the country last year, which rose 22 percent between 2013 and 2014, from 1,813 to 2,212, the TSA said.

Of all the guns taken last year, 83 percent were discovered loaded.

Part of the increase likely has to do with an increase in passenger volumes. In 2014, the TSA screened more than 653 million passengers, nearly 15 million more than in 2013, it said.

Locally, the picture is a bit more mixed.

During the most recent 12-month period at BWI for which data is available — November 2013 to November 2014 — passenger volumes were down by about 0.2 percent compared to the same 12-month period the year prior.

Airport officials predict 2014 total passenger numbers will reflect a similar change, slightly below or flat with 2013 numbers, at around 22.3 million passengers for the year.

That nearly flat passenger rate mirrors the nearly flat rate in weapons seizures, though passengers slightly ticked down while guns increased by one.

At Reagan, where the number of discovered firearms more than doubled between 2013 and 2014, and at Dulles, where there was a slight uptick, passenger volumes also increased, though finalized passenger volumes for the year were not available.

Year-to-date through November, traffic was up 1.4 percent at Reagan in 2014 over the same time frame in 2013, and 1.7 percent at Dulles, according to Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority statistics. In November alone, traffic at Reagan was up 6 percent year over year.

At BWI, gun seizures came in a variety of forms and occurred sporadically throughout the year.

In November, a woman was arrested at BWI after security agents discovered a loaded .38-caliber pistol and more than a dozen loose bullets in her carry-on bag.

In August, two people were arrested in two days for attempting to bring handguns through security in their carry-on bags. In September, a man was arrested after a .40-caliber semi-automatic handgun was found in his carry-on, loaded with eight rounds of ammunition.

In addition to the firearms seized in 2014, the TSA also confiscated more than 1,400 other items in carry-on luggage, including "firearm components, replica firearms, stun guns, and other similar dangerous objects," the TSA said.

At BWI, hundreds of pounds of prohibited items are confiscated each month, from knives and switchblades to brass knuckles and bats. Stun guns have popped up at BWI from time to time as well.

The TSA said the "vast majority" of passengers found with guns at airport checkpoints across the country told officials they forgot the weapon was in their bag.

Nationally, the airport with the most firearms seized in 2014 was Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, where 120 guns were seized. In second was Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, with 109.

krector@baltsun.com

twitter.com/rectorsun

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