Airport screeners discover more than 1,500 guns in 2012
January 3, 2013 -- Updated 1118 GMT (1918 HKT)
In 2012 more than 1,500 firearms were discovered by screeners at airport checkpoints, TSA spokesman David Castelveter said.
- Many of the guns discovered at checkpoints were loaded, according to the TSA
- Agency assumes that most passengers made an honest mistake, spokesman says
- A sword and four inert grenades were among other prohibited items discovered
Washington (CNN) -- Passengers are not allowed to carry guns onto airplanes, yet the Transportation Security Administration finds hundreds of weapons each year.
In 2012 more than 1,500 firearms were discovered by screeners at airport checkpoints, TSA spokesman David Castelveter said. That is an average of more than four weapons a day.
iReport: Was your gun banned?
A total of 1,320 firearms were found in 2011. Many were loaded, and some had rounds in the chamber.
"We do assume that the vast majority of weapons that come through are (from) people who didn't know they couldn't carry them on or were not aware they were in the bag," Castelveter said.
Guns and the media
Giving up guns
Sheriff defends call to arm school staff
L.A. residents trade guns for groceries
Through the end of November, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport led the nation with 80 guns found.
The top five airports also included Dallas/Fort Worth International with a total of 75 firearms, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport with 50, George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston with 48, and Denver International Airport with 36.
Read more: FBI gun background checks hit record highs
It's not clear whether the increase in the number of guns found in 2012 is due to more people traveling with weapons or TSA screeners and new screening technologies doing a better job of finding them.
When firearms are found at a checkpoint, the TSA calls local police who determine whether the passenger should be arrested, ticketed or have their gun returned.
"They can be permitted to take the weapon back to (their) car and come back," Castelveter said. "If it is illegal (to have the weapon in that locality), then it is confiscated by law enforcement."
Watch: Giving up guns
Under TSA rules, guns are allowed in checked baggage in locked, hard-sided containers. They must be unloaded and declared to the airline, and passengers must follow local gun laws.
Guns, ammunition, firearm parts and even realistic replicas cannot be carried on the plane.
Guns are not the only weapons banned from the passenger areas of planes. The TSA blog highlights a wide variety of prohibited items discovered in carry-on bags.
Poll: Majority favors gun restrictions
In the first week of December, passengers tried to take 40 stun guns through checkpoints. The next week, a walking cane with a sword inside was found, and in the week before Christmas, a spear gun was discovered. In addition, four inert grenades were found inside carry-ons.
Part of complete coverage on
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1526 GMT (2326 HKT)
Advocates say the exam includes unnecessarily invasive and irrelevant procedures -- like a so-called "two finger" test.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0009 GMT (0809 HKT)
Supplies of food, clothing and fuel are running short in Damascus and people are going hungry as the civil war drags on.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1801 GMT (0201 HKT)
Supporters of Richard III want a reconstruction of his head to bring a human aspect to a leader portrayed as a murderous villain.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1548 GMT (2348 HKT)
Robert Fowler spent 130 days held hostage by the same al Qaeda group that was behind the Algeria massacre. He shares his experience.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0507 GMT (1307 HKT)
As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
The relationship is, once again, cold enough to make Obama's much-trumpeted "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations seem thoroughly off the rails.
Ten years on, what do you think the Iraq war has changed in you, and in your country? Send us your thoughts and experiences.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1215 GMT (2015 HKT)
Musician Daniela Mercury has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide over a career span of nearly 30 years.
Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0006 GMT (0806 HKT)
Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1237 GMT (2037 HKT)
That galaxy far, far away is apparently bigger than first thought. The "Star Wars" franchise will get two spinoff movies, Disney announced.
February 8, 2013 -- Updated 0718 GMT (1518 HKT)
It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.
Today's five most popular stories