TSA Exercises Prudence And Real Commonsense

AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

It’s not everyday that we can look towards a governmental agency and say “Wow, that actually made sense!” From the TSA, no less. The TSA has stumbled plenty by shaming people and showing their bias in a real open way. Shockingly, a press release from the TSA must be from bizzaro world. The release entitled “Hawaii man stopped after TSA catches him with antique gun at Newark-Liberty International Airport security checkpoint” goes on to explain what happened and how the situation was handled. Hawaii man in New Jersey, firearms, and TSA; what a combination!

NEWARK, N.J. – A Hawaii resident was stopped with a handgun at a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) security checkpoint in Terminal A at Newark Liberty International Airport on Saturday, August 21.

What’s really important to understand is that in the State of New Jersey, an “antique” pistol is a pistol. They’re regulated the exact same way a brand new semi-automatic handgun would be. Recall the story of Gordon Van Gilder? Read up about the issues he had in the Republic of New Jersey; an antique firearm, his subsequent arrest, alleged smear campaign levied against him, and eventual dropping of charges. Yeah.

As for the TSA, I’m pretty sure the item would be prohibited as well. What occurred next is shocking.

A TSA officer stopped the man with an unloaded antique gun inside his carry-on bag when the carry-on bag entered a checkpoint X-ray unit. The man told officials that it was his father’s gun and he forgot that it was inside his carry-on bag. Police permitted the man to leave the airport to secure the weapon.

This is the portion of the show where Redd Foxx would grab his chest and tell Elizabeth he’s on his way. “Police permitted the man to leave the airport to secure the weapon.” Holy cow. The release goes on to explain the methods behind this real commonsense approach (not the commonsense invoked by the anti-freedom caucus) to the transgression:

TSA reserves the right to issue a civil penalty to travelers who have guns and gun parts with them at a checkpoint. Civil penalties for bringing a handgun into a checkpoint can stretch into thousands of dollars, depending on mitigating circumstances. This applies to travelers with or without concealed gun carry permits because even though an individual may have a concealed carry permit, it does not allow for a firearm to be carried onto an airplane. The complete list of civil penalties is posted online. If a traveler with a gun is a member of TSA PreCheck®, that individual will lose their TSA PreCheck privileges.

When an individual shows up at a checkpoint with a firearm, the checkpoint lane comes to a standstill until the police resolve the incident. Guns at checkpoints can delay travelers from getting to their gates.

There is no other way to look at this than with shock and awe. “TSA reserves the right…” So, they can use discretion? This goes back to the many instances that people inadvertently end up finding themselves afoul of the law at the security checkpoint in airports. This is not to say forgetting that one has a firearm in their carry-on is okay, however, people make honest mistakes. Stupid mistakes, but honest.

Nationwide, TSA officers detected 3,257 firearms on passengers or their carry-on bags at checkpoints last year, although the total number of passengers screened at airport checkpoints across the country fell by 500 million compared to 2019 due to the pandemic. The result was that twice as many firearms per million passengers screened were detected at checkpoints in 2020 compared to 2019. In 2020, TSA caught approximately 10 firearms per million passengers as compared to about five firearms per million passengers in 2019.  Of the guns caught by TSA in 2020, about 83 percent were loaded.

Of the three thousand plus persons found with a firearm in their carry-ons, how many were given the opportunity to just be whipped and set free? Go back to their car, or hell, cancel their flight to go home and properly stow their firearm. If there is no criminal intent detected, maybe this is exactly how the TSA should be handling all of these cases. If this problem is that prevalent, the TSA should take action by implementing an educational campaign. Instead of tying people with no criminal intent up with legal fees and penalties, use the situation as a teachable moment.

It’s unimaginable, but let’s commend the TSA on this one…In New Jersey!?

Also in the release is noted the TSA’s instructions on traveling by air with a firearm:

Passengers are permitted to travel with firearms in checked baggage if they are properly packaged and declared at their airline ticket counter to be transported in the belly of the plane. Guns are absolutely not permitted to be carried onto planes. Checked firearms must be unloaded, packed in a hard-sided case, locked, and packed separately from ammunition. TSA has details on how to properly travel with a firearm posted on its website. Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality and travelers should check into firearm laws before they decide to travel with their guns. Travelers should also contact their airline as they may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition.

Dec 08, 2021 12:30 PM ET