EDITORIAL

Armed and forgetful

7/15/2013

Former Arizona congressman Gabrielle Giffords, whose shooting in 2011 made her a patron saint of gun-violence opponents, is touring the country in support of 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.

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 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/‚Äč11, Transportation Security Administration screeners are finding more passengers with loaded guns. According to statistics cited by the Associated Press, the TSA found 894 guns on passengers or in their carry-on bags in the first six months of the year — a 30 percent increase from the year-ago period.

These people are not terrorists, and most may not even be challenging the system. The most common excuse for having guns is that passengers simply forgot 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.