Recently, a drunk motorist explained they were driving under the influence because “they forgot” they were not to drink and drive. In a typical week, some 25 gun owners (1,300 per year) are stopped at airport Transportation Secur
ity Administration (T.S.A.) checkpoints because they have handguns (of all calibers) in their carry-on bags—and over 80% of the time they are loaded, (See chart below excerpted from Weekly T.S.A. blog September 28, 2012.
Invariably, they say “they forgot” they were carrying a gun. This despite clear T.S.A. Rules for Firearms and Ammunition:
Travelers may only transport UNLOADED firearms in a locked, hard-sided container in or as checked baggage. All firearms, ammunition and firearm parts, including firearm frames and receivers, are prohibited in carry-on baggage.
And the NRA and gun owners want us to believe that gun owners are law abiding citizens we should not be concerned about—they always follow the law. Well I for one am very concerned. Clearly not all gun owners can be trusted to follow the law.
I do not want my life, or the lives of my loved ones, put at risk because “law abiding” gun owners deliberately choose to break the law for their own misguided fantasies. (See Gun Fact # 1: Carrying a Gun Does Not Provide Self Defense)
Guns go off accidentally; they can kill passengers, crew members, cause structural damage and in certain cases go through the plane’s fuselage causing everyone to be ejected from the plane due to explosive decompression.
What is the punishment for attempting to carry a loaded gun on board? Unlike the drunk driver who may lose their license and face jail time, gun owners are not licensed so there is no license to lose. They are subject to State law and in most states their gun is returned and they are told put it in their car before boarding.
The evidence is clear, not all gun owners can be trusted to follow the law and it only takes one to cause a catastrophic event. Given gun owners’ track record, does anyone really believe that every checked gun is unloaded and stored properly? Further, a checked gun can be remotely fired using a cell phone.
That we allow any passenger to check a gun on a commercial flight is lunacy; it is yet another example of how insane our gun laws are.