Fred Kunkle at the Washington Post has a follow-up story on the seizure of guns at US airports and on our work on concealed handgun permits.
A researcher has run the numbers on the record-setting number of guns found in carry-on luggage at airport checkpoints and found some good news: given the estimated number of people who are legally carrying firearms in the United States these days, he says the rate of seizures at airport checkpoints has actually declined.
John Lott, an economist who has proposed that easing firearms regulations would reduce crime, said he believes that the steady increase in the number of firearms confiscated by the Transportation Security Administration in recent years can be explained almost entirely by the proliferation of Americans carrying firearms.
Lott, who has been collecting data on the issuance of permits to carry concealed weapons, said the number of people granted state permits to carry a handgun has jumped to more than 16.3 million people from 14.5 million just a year earlier. Plus, even more now carry because a dozen states have virtually eliminated the need for any permit, he said. In Montana, for example, a person need not have a permit to carry a concealed weapon outside the limits of cities and towns. . . .
But Lott said his analysis shows that even as the number of gun-toting Americans is ballooning, the relative number of people stopped by airport security for having a firearm has declined. He also says the number was already very, very small relative to the number of air travelers and people who carry firearms. . . .
“Do I agree that penalties are more likely to focus people’s attention on making sure they don’t make mistakes? Sure, I agree with that completely. Do I think it’s important that people take this responsibility seriously? Yeah, I agree with that too,” Lott said. “Maybe if you impose more of a penalty on it, people will be more careful.” . . .