Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Packing For the Airport (Continued)

Gun concealed in a book
Gun concealed in a stuffed animal
A year ago, here and elsewhere, I started calling attention to the shocking numbers of guns, most of them loaded, that our fellow citizens were carrying with them to the airport.

The TSA keeps a weekly tally. For all of 2012, 1,542 firearms were found by TSA screeners in carry-on bags at checkpoints -- 1,215 of them (78.7 percent) loaded. In 2011, by comparison, fewer than 1,200 firearms were found in carry-on bags, so the number is definitely rising.

Some people caught with guns at airport checkpoints are clearly planning to take them onto airplanes, and have made a deliberate effort to try to conceal the weapon from screeners. By and large, these appear to be stone idiots who have no terrorist or criminal intent but think they have a god-given right to carry a concealed weapon anywhere they go.

But most people caught packing guns at the checkpoints claim that they simply forgot they had them, which is by any estimation (including that of responsible gun owners) a definition of knucklehead. Gunsmanship 101: You should always know where your weapon is. Duh.

When TSA screeners find a gun, they call the local cops. What happens after that is up to local law enforcement and local law. In most cases, the sanction (if any) is light. In many cases, cops tell gun-toting passengers to simply take the weapon back out to their cars and then return to the checkpoint unarmed. Above is the TSA's chart showing which airports draw (so to speak) the largest number of knuckleheads who evidently forget they're packing heat. The chart is for all of 2012.

And of course, the fact that 1,500-plus guns are found, some of them carefully concealed, at checkpoints indicates that an unknown number of guns slip through and are carried onto planes routinely.

Here's a link to the TSA's year-end report on guns and other weapons found at checkpoints in 2012.

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