New York Times columnist Joe Sharkey attributes the increase in travelers carrying guns through airport checkpoints to "the knucklehead factor." "A majority of passengers found with firearms in their carry-ons explain sheepishly that they simply forgot they had them in their bags," he writes. "This seems plausible since many states have been steadily relaxing laws regulating the possession and carrying of firearms." Far more serious are travelers who "artfully conceal" their weapons. Sharkey also questions whether such travelers understand that attempting to take a gun on a plane is an extremely serious offense.