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Last year, feds found 16 guns in bags at BWI; in Dallas, 153

As the nation's gun laws continue to be the subject of heated debate, federal aviation officials are reminding travelers of a long-standing rule: Firearms and ammunition are never permitted in carry-on bags.

Last year federal officers detected an arsenal at U.S. airports: 2,653 guns in carry-on bags, more than seven a day — a 20 percent increase from 2014, according to the Transportation Security Administration.

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"Our officers are becoming more adept at intercepting these prohibited items," TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger said in a statement.

At Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, federal officers caught travelers with 16 guns in their carry-on bags, a slight increase over the previous two years.

By comparison, at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, 153 guns were intercepted. Other airports where the most guns were detected were Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta (144), Houston George Bush (100), Denver (90) and Phoenix (73).

The TSA advises travelers to familiarize themselves with the state and local firearms laws of their destinations and to contact airlines regarding policies for firearms and ammunition. Weapons can be transported in checked bags if they are properly packed and declared to the airline, according to the TSA.

Access to firearms has been a hot topic on the presidential campaign trail, as have been President Barack Obama's recent executive actions on gun control.

Federal law requires licensed gun dealers to administer background checks. But the president's actions this month expand the number of sellers — including those at gun shows — who will fall under this requirement.

Maryland is one of 18 states that already mandate background checks for handgun sales at gun shows. Maryland, in fact, has some of the toughest restrictions on gun sales in the nation.

A 2013 Maryland law requires handgun buyers to get a license from state police and pass a fingerprint background check. It bans the sale of assault weapons and magazines that hold more than 10 bullets. Former Gov. Martin O'Malley sought the law after the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

This month, Gov. Larry Hogan ruled out any effort to scale back O'Malley's gun control law, despite calls from his party.

—Tim Prudente

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