Guns

TSA’s 2015 gun tally

For the Runway Girl Network, I put together a year-end review of the guns, weapons and assorted odd items discovered by TSA at airport checkpoints during 2015.

TSA GUN

In 2014, the TSA reported that it had discovered 2,122 firearms in the carry-on bags of passengers. That was an average of six firearms per day and was a 22 percent increase over the number of firearms (1,813) found in 2013.

TSA’s official 2015 Year in Review is due out any minute, but my unofficial tally taken from the weekly reports on the TSA Blog adds up to 2,495 firearms found at airport checkpoints this past year – which is yet another new record.

Of course, prohibited items found by Transportation Security Officers in carry-on bags and on passengers passing through security checkpoints aren’t limited to firearms.

Last year TSA found, 40 pounds of marijuana in one man’s bag at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, a meat slicer at Southwest Florida International Airport and a knife concealed inside a souvenir replica of the Eiffel Tower, found at Oakland International Airport.

Meat Slicer found in a carry-on bag at Southwest Florida International Airiport_edited

And, in the same week in March that the TSA found 55 firearms (51 loaded; 13 with a round chambered) and 13 stun guns, a Chihuahua was discovered inside a checked bag at New York’s LaGuardia Airport.

How did that happen?

“Apparently, the dog climbed in while its owner was packing her suitcase. TSA worked with the airline to identify the owner, and the two were happily reunited,” the TSA reported.

Knife concealed in an Eiffel Tower replica - found at Oakland Airport_edited

Chihauhua found in carry-on bag at LaGuardia Airport_edited

Guns in Texas airports

Houston Airports - gun sign

Signs like this are now posted at airports in Houston.

 

There’s a new “open carry” gun law in Texas that allows legally licensed handgun owners to openly carry a holstered gun in public.

But, as the Houston Airport System memo notes, “there still are some restrictions in certain locations, including at airports.”

A statement outlining what the new state rules mean for passengers and employees at George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), William P. Hobby Airport (HOU) and Ellington Airport (EFD) – and  other airports in the state – reminds travelers that gun owners with properly licensed and displayed guns (as well as gun owners with licenses for concealed weapons) “can have their gun in public areas only, like baggage, ticketing, garages and public sidewalks or walkways.”

Federal law still prohibits passengers from bringing weapons to or past airport security checkpoints and the TSA is permitted to issue fines to travelers found with loaded or unloaded guns.

But an amendment to the Texas handgun licensing law that went into effect in September says a passenger found with a licensed gun at an airport checkpoint won’t be subject to felony charges as long as the gun was taken to the airport by accident  (the explanation the TSA says most everyone caught with a gun at an airport seems to give) and as long as the passenger immediately takes their gun away from the secure area when it’s found.
The TSA issues a weekly report of the number of firearms (and other prohibited items) found at airports checkpoints and does an annual year-end tally.

Three Texas airports – DFW, and both George Bush Intercontinental and Hobby Airport in Houston – were in the TSA’s list of “Top 10 Airports for Gun Catches in 2014.”

Open carry laws in many other states already permit licensed gun owners to bring firearms into the public areas of airports and in June a man dropping his daughter off at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International made national news by walking through the airport carrying an AR-15 rifle.

Are TSA PreCheck centers easy-access?

TSA PreCheck Enrollment Center at IND Airport - courtesy TSA

 

No balloons fell from the ceiling last week when the U.S. Department of Homeland Security celebrated the fact that over 500,000 travelers have handed over personal data – and $85 – to join the Transportation Security Administration’s expedited airport screening program since the first public enrollment center opened at Indianapolis International Airport in December 2013.

Today, the Global Gateway Alliance, a group that advocates for improvements at the New York metropolitan area airports, released a report offering TSA advice on how to push the PreCheck enrollment numbers higher.

There are currently about 300 PreCheck application sites nationwide processing, altogether, more than four thousand new applications a day. Twenty-eight of those sites are in airports (LAX and ATL each have two), with many others co-located at pre-existing sites in strip malls, office and industrial parks, and a few chiropractic offices contracted to do credentialing for airport and railroad workers and for truck drivers hauling hazardous materials to and from port facilities.

The range of off-airport sites “makes it easier for the traveling public to apply for TSA PreCheck,” said TSA’s Feinstein. But putting enrollment centers “in places where people actually congregate, which can be conveniently accessed, would raise awareness and participation the program,” the GGA suggests.

In the New York area, the TSA currently has enrollment centers at Terminal C at LaGuardia and in Terminal 4 at JFK. GGA’s report urges TSA to expand throughout area airport terminals “to reach travelers at the point when they are most likely to be thinking about airport security.”

Have you applied for the PreCheck program? How did it go?

(My story about TSA Precheck centers first appeared on USA TODAY).

The LAX Shooting and guns at airports

Friday night the details of how – and why – a man showed up at Los Angeles International Airport with a rifle and shot his way through Terminal 3 are still being pieced together.

A lot is already known.

The man doing the shooting has been identified as 23-year-old Los Angeles resident Paul Anthony Ciancia.

A TSA officer – 39-year-old Gerardo I. Hernandez – was killed and perhaps a half dozen other people, including two other TSA officers, were injured.

And thousands of passengers at LAX and other airports around the country had a travel day seriously disrupted.

More than 700 flights were canceled or delayed. Close to 50 were diverted to other airports.

And pretty much everyone is shocked and freaked out.

Here’s a link to a story from by Brian Sumers and Larry Altman that does a really good job of describing the events of the day. Sumers was one of the reporters on-site and tweeting from LAX most of the day.

A lot more details will surely be revealed in the days ahead and we’ll be horrified by them all.

In the meantime, as it does most every Friday afternoon, the TSA released a tally of the number of guns found – but luckily not fired – at airport security checkpoints this week.

This week 29 guns were discovered at airport security checkpoints. 27 were loaded. 9 had rounds chambered.

And, as we know, one loaded rifle was used to wreak havoc at LAX airport.

TSA GUNS OCTOBER

Courtesy TSA

 

Not TSA-approved. Ever

Multi-bladed folding knife 3

The TSA’s plan to allow passengers to once again carry small knives on board airplanes got nixed a while back.

But even if it had gone forward the knife pictured above would never had made the, uh, cut.

Made around 1880 as an advertising item for a store window in New York City, the knife’s 100 “blades” include a cigar cutter, a button hook, a tuning fork and pencils.

Look closely and you’ll even spot a .22 pinfire revolver.

That tiny revolver is why the knife is on display at the Cody Firearms Museum at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming.

The knife is on loan to the museum until 2015 along with 63 other historically significant firearms from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, which began collecting firearms in 1876.

Along with the many-bladed knife, the items on loan include a rifle made for Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia with a velvet cheek piece so that her royal face would not rest directly on the stock.

Catherine the Great rifle 2

(All images courtesy the Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center, via Buffalo Bill Center of the West)