Not exactly what you want to hear when you're halfway through the airport security scanner, wondering if the TSA agent noticed that your sock has a hole in its toe.
Gun alerts are rare, of course. Most self-respecting terrorists are too canny to consider smuggling a firearm on board. And travelers with no hidden agenda know that waving a .357 Magnum around isn't likely to get them an upgrade.
But flyers—mostly the clueless and the forgetful, it turns out—do indeed try to clear security with guns in their carry-ons. And they do it more at some airports than at others.
According to a report by the Medill National Security Journalism Initiative at Northwestern University, last year the TSA confiscated 1,525 guns at airport checkpoints. Of those, 85 percent were loaded; and chillingly, 26 percent had a cartridge in the chamber.
The most popular types of guns, accounting for more than half, were .380 caliber, 9mm, and .38 caliber.
Guns: Who's Got 'Em
So, where are you most likely to cross paths with the country's would-be flying gunslingers? Here's the top 10 list:
2. Dallas-Ft. Worth
4. Houston Int'l
5. Ft. Lauderdale
7. Dallas-Love Field
Atlanta is no surprise, since it's the nation's busiest airport.
And the preponderance of Texas airports? Well, it's Texas, after all, with its cowboy culture. It stands to reason that more guns in circulation would translate into more guns in carry-ons.
But Ft. Lauderdale and Orlando? The "Venice of America" and the "Theme Park Capital of the World"? It turns out that Florida and Texas have something in common. They are the two states with the highest numbers of concealed-weapon permits.
So you might want to think twice before getting into the security line behind that middle-aged mama in the flip-flops and the Mickey Mouse T-shirt. She may be packin' heat.
Reader Reality Check
Have you ever witnessed a gun being confiscated at a security checkpoint?
This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.