The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) began its organized reporting of firearms in 2006, a year in which the agency’s front line Transportation Security Officers (TSO) seized 660 guns at checkpoints. Here we are in 2015, with a look back at 2014’s numbers, where TSA TSOs seized 2,212 firearms passengers attempted to bring on board aircraft in their carry-on bags.
On the one hand, yes, the TSA has improved its front line screening of passengers, however, spotting guns has never been a real challenge for those monitoring the x-ray screening. Even the most poorly trained TSO can spot a gun … which leads to think one glaring question …
… are travelers in the United States just getting dumber?
You know what is even worse? 83% of the 2,212 firearms seized by the TSA at checkpoints, placed in carry-on bags, were loaded.
This is not a Second Amendment debate. Of the 2,212 guns in the TSA’s year end wrap up numbers all were stopped at passenger check points, not in checked bags. These numbers do not reflect seized weapons that law enforcement recovered from improperly declared checked bags … this is just from carry-ons.
At what point does someone forget they have a gun in their briefcase? How does a woman forget she has a fully loaded semiautomatic 9mm pistol in her purse?
OK … granted, 2,212 seized firearms from carry on baggage only accounts for roughly 0.0149% of all passengers screened in the United States … but this comes out to roughly six guns per day.
So now, having read through the full 2014 annual review from the TSA, I’d like to offer you, the traveling public, some general tips …
1) Unless you are law enforcement, and have completed the ‘Law Enforcement Officers Flying Armed” training, as per Title 49 Code of Federal Regulation (CFR) § 1544.219, Carriage of Accessible Weapons, and have submitted a National Law Enforcement Telecommunications System Message prior to travel … or are a Federal Air Marshals, Federal Flight Deck Officer or a select Law Enforcement or Government Officials … YOU ARE NOT GETTING ON A COMMERCIAL AIRLINE FLIGHT WITH YOUR GUN
2) Putting aside the obvious fact that an assault rifle is not allowed in your carry on … keep this in mind … if your M4 carbine rifle, and related loaded magazines, are stored in a case that exceeds the maximum carry on length of the airline you are flying on, it wouldn’t be allowed as carry on, even if you weren’t trying to fly with a rifle as your carry on.
3) Common logic … placing duct tape on your grenade will not effectively disguise it from the passenger screening x-ray scanners. It just looks like a grenade wrapped in duct tape.
4) Any sold putty material will show up as a “brick” on the scanner and will be required to be hand searched. Any putty marked as “C-4”, yea that’s not getting on the plane and you’re having a conversation with law enforcement.
5) If you need to travel with an improvised explosives device (IED) training kit, consider traveling with it completely disassembled, and packed in separate checked bags so it doesn’t look like ball bearings packed in putty, attached to a detonator, placed inside a deployment package. You know what … just ship those components in 4 or 5 separate boxes. It ain’t getting on a plane.
6) If you must try and see if you can slip a gun through an airport passenger screening checkpoint, at least have the brains to not have the loaded firearm holstered to your body.
I love people watching in airports. Airports to me are the greatest place to sit, listen and observe … but the more I sit in some airports and watch and listen, the more I am convinced that as a whole we’re just getting dumber and dumber.