How loaded weapons pass through screening checkpoints

Even though traveller numbers have returned to pre-COVID levels and surpassed them, the risk of dangerous items passing through security checkpoints has increased. According to statistics released by one of the largest security screening organisations, more than 93% of detected firearms are loaded. However, when screeners are focused on one specific threat, such as a firearm, they may experience a phenomenon known as inattentional blindness, causing them to miss other threats right in front of them. This may help explain why two such firearms have managed recently to fly overseas and only be detected upon arrival in the destination country.

However, this serious concern affects the safety and security of travellers and airport workers. The answer to this problem is complex, as multiple factors can contribute to this alarming phenomenon. 

Several factors can lead to security breaches at airports and seaports. These include human error, technology failure, the volume of passengers and cargo, policy loopholes, and criminal ingenuity. 

Human error can happen due to fatigue, distraction, or lack of training among the screening staff. Additionally, the team may be overwhelmed by the high volume of passengers and cargo, creating opportunities for items to slip through undetected, especially during peak travel times. 

Technology failure can occur when screening equipment malfunctions, is outdated or is inadequate for detecting certain types of weapons. For example, some metal detectors may not pick up plastic or ceramic guns, or some X-ray machines may not show enough detail to identify hidden weapons. 

Policy loopholes may also exist in screening procedures, allowing some weapons to slip through. For example, some airports or seaports may have different standards or exemptions for specific categories of travellers or cargo, such as diplomats, crew members, military personnel, or humanitarian aid. 

Criminal ingenuity can play a role in security breaches as well. Smugglers or attackers may use sophisticated methods to conceal or disguise their weapons, such as hiding them inside other objects, modifying them to look harmless, or using fake documents or identities to bypass the screening.

It is possible that loaded weapons can get through security screening at airports or seaports. However, this doesn’t mean that nothing can be done to prevent or reduce the risk. Several measures can be taken, such as:

  • Improving the training and supervision of the screening staff and providing them with incentives and rewards for their performance.
  • Upgrading and maintaining the screening equipment to ensure it meets the latest standards and specifications.
  • Enhancing intelligence and cooperation among different agencies and authorities and sharing information and best practices to combat the threat of weapon smuggling and terrorism.

To mitigate these risks, security authorities continuously improve security protocols, invest in advanced screening technologies, and provide ongoing training to security personnel.

EyeFox by Neural Guard, utilises artificial intelligence to augment the capabilities of current X-ray screening technology. This enables the identification of potential threats more efficiently than the human eye.