Date of Award

January 2012

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


English and Theatre

First Advisor

E. Scott Dunlap

Department Affiliation

English and Theatre


This study investigated the aviation screening process and sought to determine if the federalization of the screening process had any effect on the number of firearm confiscations at civilian aviation screening checkpoints. The hypothesis of the study was that airport screening firearms confiscations (per one million screenings) were lower before the U.S. government (TSA) took over screening in 2001-2002. This quantitative research required the performance of an interrupted time series analysis. Interrupted time series analysis evaluates the impact of one or more events on the values in the time series. An interrupted time series analysis attempts to determine whether an outside event affected subsequent observations. For an example, did the implementation of a new economic policy improve economic performance, did a new gun ordinance reduce violent crimes; or in this study, did the federalization of civilian airport screening increase the number of confiscated firearms. Such comparison of an interrupted time series was applied to this study of firearm confiscations at airport checkpoints.

Due to limited publically available data and inconsistencies in data collection, firearms were the only category of confiscations available that provided sufficient data points (years of data) to conduct quantitative research. The first data set includes persons screened and firearms confiscated from years 1990 through 2000. The second set of data includes persons screened and firearms confiscated from years 2003 through 2009. The total data that was used spans a twenty year period (1990-2009). An examination the theoretical screening process model used by the private sector and the process model currently in use by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was performed to determine if any technological advances or changes in screening process may have had an effect on the statistical results.

The results of the investigation revealed the following findings:

1. There was no statistically significant difference between the number of firearm confiscations by private screeners and the number of firearms confiscated by government screeners.

2. Advancements in screening technology had little to no effect on the number of confiscated firearms between both theoretical process models.