Since posting the TSA data on gun recoveries at airports, I continued to look for evidence that TSA systematically and aggressively addresses the guns-in-carryon-bags issue with prosecutions of offenders. I could find no such evidence on TSA’s website or in news stories about various incidents at airports, including those involving loaded and chambered weapons. TSA’s approach appears to be to accept the excuse that “I forgot the gun was in my bag” or “my husband must have put it in there without telling me.” They do confiscate weapons, though not in all cases, but do not seem interested in actually imposing legally authorized punishments. TSA instead continues, thorough its blog posts and media releases to remind travelers about the rules governing transport of guns on aircraft. See, for example, https://bit.ly/2qUYVNw. Meanwhile, finding such weapons at the checkpoints leads to delays of other passengers while the incident is resolved.
This is a curious policy, at best, given that the Customs agents at airports appear to have a much less lenient approach to people “forgetting to declare” things like food items. Indeed, in one recent case, a woman has been fined $500 for failing to declare an apple provided by Delta Air Lines and contained in a plastic package bearing Delta’s logo. She placed the apple in her carryon while on the aircraft, planning to eat it on the next domestic leg of her flight home. Views may and do differ about whether this type of incident warrants a huge fine and possible loss of Global Entry status, but the real issue, in my view, is the disparity in practice between TSA and Customs & Border Patrol, in light of the potential risks.
Moreover, it is apparently the case that enforcement of the carryon restrictions ultimately depends on state or local law governing the possession of firearms. See, for example, https://bit.ly/2HV4Da7 and https://on-ajc.com/2FavsUZ. I don’t understand why this would be true given that the offenses occur in federally controlled airport zones and violate federal regulations, which, under the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, control over conflicting state/local laws. There are apparently some exceptions, like New York, but, of course, the pro-gun crowd are pretty unhappy about anything that they think smacks of restricting their “rights.” See https://fxn.ws/2usKvZI.
I conclude more or less where these posts began. The other day a passenger who had allegedly touched a female passenger inappropriately refused to deplane peacefully when ordered to do so and the police had to use a stun gun on him multiple times to subdue him. https://bit.ly/2HrJUcQ. Imagine how this might have gone down if this passenger had possessed a loaded pistol in his carryon bag.