Tag Archives: Delta

If There Were No TSA — Addendum

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.

One Short Goose-Step Away

A young man kills 17 children and adults at a school. It’s not the first time and it surely won’t be the last. The surviving students react strongly that they have had enough of the killing and demand that governments at all levels do something to restrict the free flow of military-grade assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Republican politicians and their followers, sensing that the popular tolerance for the American gun culture is reaching its limits, double down in near-panic. They attack the surviving students as being too young, too immature, too “emotional,” too “whatever” to be trusted to have independent thoughts about what has happened and what should be done about it. Right-wing conspiracy proponents claim the students are actually paid actors working for the “left” and that they should be disregarded. And so it goes, promoted and sustained by the National Rifle Association.

One of the consequences of this state of affairs is that many large companies have decided to terminate discounts they provided to members of the NRA. This is the same NRA that has resisted every reasonable effort to expand background checks, end the gun show loopholes, and conduct government research into the causes and effects of gun violence in the United States. The NRA’s position is clear:  more guns are always better and any effort, not matter how small and incremental, to address gun violence is an existential threat to the American way of life.

Among the companies that finally said “enough,” is Delta Airlines which is headquartered in Atlanta, GA. Delta announced the end of its NRA discount, that, according to reports, involved only a handful of people but was seen by the company as an important signal of social responsibility.

In response, the Georgia legislature passed a bill revoking the multi-million tax break for jet fuel Delta had enjoyed. The Lt. Governor, running for governor, tweeted:

I will kill any tax legislation that benefits @Delta unless the company changes its position and fully reinstates its relationship with @NRA.  Corporations cannot attack conservatives and expect us not to fight back.

The sitting governor has indicated he will sign the legislation into law.

Now, it’s a fair question why the State of Georgia was subsidizing Delta in relation to its competitors using tens of millions in taxpayer funds, and there would be no quarrel, I think, if the state decided that subsidizing a commercial company was inappropriate as a matter of general government policy. Free market and all that. But the state’s response to the NRA decision by Delta is something else altogether.

The decision to revoke the tax exemption represents the use of the power of the state to compel a private company to continue doing business with another private company on terms approved by the state. So far, Delta has stood firm against this oppression, noting that its “values are not for sale,” but the equivocating has begun as Delta also said it was “in the process of a review to end group discounts for any group of a politically divisive nature.” If so, Delta appears to be on the verge of knuckling under to the right-wing agenda of the Georgia legislature. It will be interesting to see how Delta defines groups of a “politically divisive nature.” This approach seems unlikely to end well.

The Georgia state action is, I suggest, a short goose-step away from the state deciding that companies doing business in Georgia must extend discounts to other companies and groups of which the state approves — compulsory business relations as the state dictates. If the State of Georgia can selectively punish Delta this way, it can reward and punish other companies in whatever manner the ruling party decides. Amazon, which is looking at Atlanta as the site of its second headquarters, should take note.

The road ahead in Georgia is dark and foreboding. Any resemblance between the governing party in Georgia and the Republican belief in the operation of the free market and conservative economic principles is not only coincidental, it is non-existent. Dead on arrival.