Tag Archives: firearms

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.

If There Were No TSA …

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.

https://www.tsa.gov/blog/2018/01/29/tsa-year-review-record-amount-firearms-discovered-2017

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.