Everyone seems to have a “security checkpoint story,” either something they experienced or an incident they observed. This has led to calls for the abolition of
the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), privitization of the airport security process and other “solutions” to preventing the use of an aircraft as a terrorist weapon, all of which approaches are intended to reduce the inconvenience and, occasionally, humiliation that occurs, especially when one is running late for a flight.
The problem may be getting worse. TSA announced a few weeks ago that it had finished rolling out enhanced screening of carry-on bags at airports across the country. https://bit.ly/2H3HMvR. The new process, according to TSA, requires travelers to:
place all personal electronics larger than a cell phone in bins for X-ray screening in standard lanes. In addition … TSA officers may instruct travelers to separate other items from carry-on bags such as foods, powders, and any materials that can clutter bags and obstruct clear images on the X-ray machine. Travelers are encouraged to organize their carry-on bags and keep them uncluttered to ease the screening process and keep the lines moving.
Somewhat curiously, I haven’t heard much about the new system causing problems, despite its having been started last summer. Perhaps, contrary to the teachings of experience, air travelers are indeed “organiz[ing] their carry-on bags and keep[ing] them uncluttered to ease the screening process and keep the lines moving,” as TSA has asked.
The TSA Administrator said that “these enhanced screening measures enable TSA officers to better screen for threats to passengers and aircrew while maintaining efficiency at checkpoints throughout the U.S….Our security efforts remain focused on always staying ahead of those trying to do us harm and ensuring travelers get to their destination safely.”
Well, they better had, because, as a result of the bizarre gun culture that pervades American society, the greatest danger appears to come, not from terrorists, but from ordinary air travelers packing heat, ready to defend themselves and others from any threat, real or imagined. I say this because it is reliably reported that in just the first week of April, TSA discovered 64 firearms in carry-on bags at airports around the United States. Of those weapons, 52, or 81 percent, were loaded and 13, or 20 percent, had a round in the firing chamber.
This, despite the fact that TSA may assess civil penalties of up to $13,066 per violation per person for carrying prohibited items on an aircraft. https://americansecuritytoday.com/tsa-finds-63-firearms-carry-bags-last-week-learn-videos/ This, despite the fact that incidents of “out of control” passengers seem to be on the increase.
Were it not for the vigilant screening efforts carried out by TSA, and assuming the first week of April was typical, there is a chance that someone on your flight will be armed with a pistol with live rounds in the chamber, ready to shoot at … what? A provocation by another passenger? A rude flight attendant? At altitude, in a pressurized cabin.
Think this is overstatement? In fact, the year 2017 set a record for weapons discoveries; according to TSA records:
- 5 million (771,556,886) passengers traveled through 440 federalized airports in 2017, a rate of more than 2 million a day;
- A record setting 3,957, firearms were discovered in carry-on bags, an average rate of 76.1 firearms per week, or . 10.8 firearms per day;
- 3,324 (84 percent) of the total firearms discovered were loaded; and 1,378 (34.8 percent) of the total had a round chambered;
- The most firearms discovered in one-month – 31 – were in August at the Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), but in total, firearms were intercepted at 239 airports.
- The 2017 total represents a 16.7 percent increase in firearm discoveries over2016’s totalof 3,391.
There’s more. The 2017 cache of intercepted weapons went well beyond mere pistols. A sample of other items includes:
- A checked bag with an ammunition box with three live ground burst simulators, two live M83 smoke grenades, and one inert practice grenade — Palm Springs International Airport (PSP).
- A live flashbang grenade in a carry-on bag — San Diego International Airport (SAN).
- A live smoke grenade — Raleigh–Durham International Airport (RDU).
- A one-pound bottle of gun powder in a checked bag at the Ketchikan International Airport (KTN).
- Five one-pound bottles of gun powder in a checked bag — Boise Airport (BOI).
- A ten-ounce container of gun powder in a checked bag — Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC).
This, my fellow Americans, is one small part of the regime we have allowed to develop in our country. So, next time you are tempted to complain about the security process at the airport, try to remember what you have read here. I don’t like going through security any more than anyone else, but without it, we’d all probably be killed by some “patriot” with a Glock 9mm in his briefcase.
Based on non-scientific review of multiple media reports, the problem is not in discovering the firearms. The issue is whether any action is taken against the person and this appears to vary widely by jurisdiction. The excuse is always “I forgot it was in there” or “my husband must have left it in there.” I suspect TSA aggressiveness, to the extent that it existed at all, has been curtailed by the Trump administration which is in love with the NRA. I don’t understand why the law of the local jurisdiction has anything to do with what happens at federally secured locations at airports, but apparently it does.
Why doesn’t the TSA ask gun owners to separate their guns and ammunition and place them in clear plastic bags? I’m sure law-abiding gun owners would comply, just as law-abiding shampoo and toothpaste owners comply. Righty?