A .45-caliber handgun with seven rounds, including one in the chamber, was found in the lining of a carry-on bag at Charlotte-Douglas airport.
It was one of 22 guns seized at the airport since the start of 2012, according to documents obtained via a federal records request.
That's about twice as many as were seized at similarly sized airports in Pittsburgh, Oakland and San Francisco.
A Transportation Security Administration administrator said about 900 firearms are confiscated nationwide in a year.
"The fact that we're getting three to four guns a day is in an indication people are not focused on the security protocol," said administrator John Pistole.
Local prosecutors decide what to do with the passengers caught with guns. A TSA spokesman said in many cases there were no "bad intentions."
The husband of one woman caught in Atlanta last year said it was an accident and she "simply forgot to take it out of her purse."
The TSA has been taking heat this week from flight attendants and passengers' groups for relaxing the rules and allowing travelers to carry small knives and baseball bats.
Security consultants said those guns are a reason officers conduct such thorough screenings.
"The key is you have to keep the bad guy off his game. The way to do that, in many cases, is random," said security consultant Richard Roth.
TSA said it's seized land mines, knives and rocket launchers from U.S. air passengers in recent months.
In February, a Charlotte-Douglas passenger was stopped with a stun gun.
The punishment for trying to take a gun on a plane varies by city. In past stories covered by Eyewitness News, people have faced fines up to $7,500 and they have been cited with a misdemeanor of carrying a concealed weapon.