TODAY   |  March 05, 2013

TSA checkpoints discover grenades, stun guns, more

Eleven years into the TSA checkpoint routine, agents continue to discover unbelievable items in travelers’ luggage, from nunchucks and grenades to stun guns and an array of ammunition. NBC’s Tom Costello takes a look at the weapons found at Dulles International Airport.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> let us begin this half hour with this exclusive behind-the-scenes look at some of the lethal weapons uncovered in airports each and every single day. tom costello covers aviation for us. he is at regulagan national airport . good morning.

>> reporter: good morning to you, matt. tsa every day screens 1.7 million passengers at 455 airports. every day it comes across weapons and replicas. we're talking guns, knives, swords and spears. 11 years into the tsa checkpoint routine, most travelers have it down. shoes off, laptops out and carry-ons through the x-ray machines. but you won't believe what those machines are finding.

>> that came into a checkpoint.

>> came into a checkpoint. someone is traveling with that. it's amazing.

>> craze.

>> at dulles airport , laying out for us some of the weapons and look-alikes his officers come across every day.

>> nunchakus.

>> you find those every day.

>> reporter: power saw blades , lots of ammunition, stun guns and objects hidden inside combs, lipstick, even deodorant. a sword?

>> ugly looking knife.

>> you can't make up some of the things people bring to checkpoints and say what were you thinking in terms of trying to get this on a plane, given this post 9/11 world we live in?

>> reporter: at airports nationwide, guns, a record 1,549 hiden in books, dvd players and, as this x-ray show, sometimes in the bottom of a carry on. in atlanta, the nation's busiest airport is also number one in gun confiscations. a woman was arrested for having a gun in her carry on, a football player with a gun and even a former state legislator . they watch for trends system wide.

>> we had nine firearm related events at our checkpoints with one arrest at philadelphia airport .

>> numbers of arrests, confiscations and suspicious behavior. even a toy gun can temporarily shut down a checkpoint.

>> this is a real gun on x-ray.

>> that's going to delay a lot of people.

>> exactly.

>> reporter: are these honest mistakes or are people trying to get one past you?

>> you think most of them are honest but you never know when someone is trying to see what they can get behind.

>> reporter: tsa turns up a gun at a checkpoint every day.

>> stop, think, then pack and make sure you don't have your weapon with you when you get to the airport.

>> reporter: keep in mind, a permit to carry a weapon in one city or state does not translate to a permit to carry in another city or state. that could get you arrested. go to the tsa's website. they also have an app on what you can and can't carry. they're preparing for sequester. come next month, probably next month, you're going to start to see slowdowns at checkpoints because there will be fewer tsa officers on hand. back to you.

>> tom, thank you very much. the scariest part of that is what the guy said, this could be cases, some of them, of people probing security to see exactly where the holes are. that's something to worry about.

>> not to make light of it, but i learned from the story to check my pitch fork .

>> never carry that on.