Guns take flight: More airline passengers are armed and forgetful

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Former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, whose shooting in 2011 made her a patron saint for gun violence opponents, has been touring the country in support of Congress passing legislation that would expand background checks. Such a step is the least Congress can do, but even this reasonable action is not a sure bet.

Unfortunately, Ms. Giffords and others have been confounded so far by the strength of the gun culture. America is increasingly becoming an armed camp, a modern-day Wild West where people just naturally assume they must carry guns to feel safe. Where is the evidence for this? At a major airport near you.

Incredibly, given the heightened security checks that followed 9/11, Transportation Security Administration screeners are increasingly finding passengers with loaded guns. It happens several times every day. According to statistics provided to the Associated Press, the TSA found 894 guns on passengers or in their carry-ons in the first six months of this year, a 30 percent increase.

These people are not terrorists and most may not even be challenging the system. The most common excuse for having guns is that passengers forgot that they were there -- itself a startling lesson of how the ubiquity of guns has bred casualness. It's also a reminder that expanded background checks cannot be put off.

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