Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents at Baltimore-Washington Airport were routinely scanning bags at the security X-ray machine Sunday when a gun was spotted.
Agents inspected a carry-on bag and found a semi-automatic handgun loaded with nine bullets, TSA officials said.
It's not an every day that someone tries to board an airplane out of BWI while carrying a gun, but it's becoming more common.
Last year, TSA says their agents at that airport found 24 guns at security checkpoints.
Agents have found 22 firearms already in 2017, according to TSA data.
The trend has been growing since at least 2013: 12 guns were found that year, 14 guns were found in 2014 and 16 guns were found in 2015.
“More people are bringing guns,” TSA spokesperson Lisa Farbstein said in an email. “You’d have to ask them why!”
Another TSA spokesman said the rise in guns found at security checkpoints seems to correlate with a growing number of fliers.
The Bedford, Pennsylvania man who TSA says tried to board a plane with a loaded gun Sunday allegedly said he forgot the gun was in his bag.
He was scheduled to fly to Milwaukee, but was arrested instead, according to TSA.
Passengers are allowed to travel with guns -- but only in checked luggage that is properly labeled and packed, Farbstein said.
“Never bring a gun to a checkpoint,” Farbstein said.
Penalties are steep for those who ignore Farbstein's advice. TSA says they can levy civil penalties up to $12,000 for gun violations. First-offenders are still usually on the hook for $3,000 for carrying a handgun into a security checkpoint, TSA said.
Despite the penalties, passengers continue to show up at security checkpoints with guns -- at BWI and other airports.
Thursday, a man brought a loaded 9mm semi-automatic handgun to a checkpoint at Reagan National Airport. He was cited, News4 reported.
The number of guns discovered by TSA officers in airports across the U.S. has doubled since 2012, TSA said.
In 2012, TSA found 1,556 guns. Last year, 3,391 guns were found at airports nationwide.
TSA agents found the highest number of guns at airports in Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Phoenix and Denver, TSA said.