PORTLAND -- Airport screeners are finding more guns at security checkpoints at the Portland International Airport.
So far this year, officials with the Transportation Security Administration said agents have recovered 21 handguns in carry-on luggage.
"What bothers me even more is that about half of them had rounds in the chamber," said Mike Irwin, Federal Security Director for the TSA in Portland. In 2011, officers found 19 guns, up from 11 in 2010, the agency reports.
Guns are not the only concern for security officers. Every week, TSA screeners at PDX find roughly 400 pounds of prohibited items. Agents recovered inert grenades, ammunition, tools, brass knuckles and box cutters.
"Who would have thought eleven years after 9/11 people would still be bringing these kind of things through?" asked Irwin.
The most common weapons recovered by airport screeners are knives. Nationwide, TSA agents find 2,100 knives per day. Last year, officers found 23 switchblades at PDX.
Federal screeners catalog some of their most unusual finds on The TSA Blog. The blog includes information about a pat-down at PDX in August, when one passenger was found carrying a dagger hidden in a comb.
In most cases, security officers theorize there's no malicious intent. Passengers just forget what is in their pockets or carry-on bags. But agents can't afford to be wrong.
"A prohibited item is a prohibited item, whether it is in the hands of a good person or a bad person, because we don't necessarily know the intent," said Irwin. Carrying a prohibited item through airport security can result in fines or even criminal charges.
Federal screeners hope holiday travelers will take a few minutes to look at what they're bringing to the airport.
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The TSA has also created a database of prohibited items.