"Huy, I had forgotten that this was in my bag" is the most frequent excuse among US air passengers. when airport security detects a weapon in their handbags, something that most times does not respond to a threat.
"People usually wear them and then forget them when they go to the airport, so one of the things we tell them is to pay attention," a regional spokesperson for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) told Efe. acronyms in English), Mark Howell.
Pomegranates, ninja stars, replicas of mortar projectiles, steel cuffs and all kinds of pistols are some of the "jewels" that agents usually find in the registers in the US airport facilities.
In 2018 alone, the authorities detected 4,239 firearms in the hand luggage of some of the almost 814 million passengers who passed through the checkpoints of the country's airports, which means an average of 11.6 a day, according to data from the TSA.
By airfields, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta led the ranking last year with the highest number of firearms discovered in travelers' handbags, with 298, of which 253 were loaded; followed by Dallas / Fort Worth, with 219 (193 with ammunition) and Phoenix Sky Harbor, with 129 (120 loaded).
In most of the occasions the travelers came with weapons not because they had plans to commit an attack but because they wear it regularly and forgot to take it out of their suitcases.
"Almost always is not intentional or has any purpose," says Howell, who explains that usually imposes a "civil penalty" to the passenger, which can amount to $ 13,333.
Although the objective is not to perpetrate any attack, Howell calls attention to the danger that many of the firearms found are loaded with ammunition, in fact, 86% of those found in 2018 were: "That's why we collaborate with the agents that apply law to deal with these cases, "he says.
In the country with the most per capita weapons in the world, where four out of ten citizens admitted having a fire or living in a house with weapons, according to a 2017 study by the Pew center, it is not surprising that each year the number is higher of users "caught" with a gun, a dagger or any other object of this type in airport scanners.
"The figure grows from one year to another, ten fire guns were detected (in hand luggage at airports) and 2018, 4 239", the spokesman points out.
Faced with this armament furor, the TSA recommends a series of measures to avoid delays at airports and a possible sanction.
If the traveler brings his "favorite sword" he could fly with it as long as it is sheathed or wrapped securely and invoiced before entering the plane.
Something similar advises this government agency for those who insist on moving with firearms, which have to go unloaded and stored in a special locked box, which the passenger has to inform at the time of billing to ship it with the rest of the luggage.
Seeing the panorama of dangerous contraptions found in the handbags takes a while to decide which is the most extravagant.
"Maybe, an electric lawn mower found a couple of years ago," reflects Howell.
Each year the TSA produces a list with the "top 10" of the ten rarest objects detected. Taking into account that the strangest in 2018 was a glove similar to that of Freddy Krueger, the sinister protagonist of the saga of horror films "A Nightmare on Elm Street", it is "scary" to imagine what the 2019 will be.