Even among the TTAG crew there’s disagreement about whether allowing concealed carry on an airplane is a good idea, but the fact of the matter is that firearms are universally banned within the “secure area” of an airport (with some law enforcement exceptions). Nevertheless thousands of firearms are found at TSA security checkpoints every year which doesn’t include the 96% of weapons the TSA fails to find. It sounds like TSA got a second bite of the apple with a Southwest Airlines pilot who was arrested with a firearm in his carry-on at the Albany, NY airport.
A Southwest Airlines pilot was arrested on a weapons charge in New York Monday after airport security officers discovered a loaded handgun in his carry-on bag.
Erik Gibson, 55, was slated to pilot a flight to Chicago when Transportation Security Administration officials found the .380-caliber handgun during a routine screening, Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple said.
There is a program called the Federal Flight Deck Officer program which deputizes pilots as federal law enforcement officers and allows them the same ability to carry firearms on airplanes as other approved law enforcement officers. Participants are required to identify themselves during the screening process so they can be screened in private and not alert the other passengers. The pilot in question apparently didn’t do that, so it sounds unlikely that he was a participant in that program.
How did the pilot get a gun in New York, one of the states with the strictest gun control in the United States? Well, his trip originated in New Oleans, Louisiana where he used his “Known Crewmember” credentials to skip the normal screening process where the firearm might have been identified. He then flew to Albany and, when coming back in through security, was subject to the normal screening process where the firearm was found. That opens the question as to how many other pilots using the Known Crewmember lanes at airports are illegally carrying firearms, which is unknown.
Something else of note is how New York handled this incident. New York doesn’t hand out concealed carry permits for non-residents and doesn’t really do the whole “reciprocity” thing, and beyond that they require registration of all handguns within the state. In this case none of those regulations were satisfied, but it sounds like the pilot is getting off easy.
Apple said Gibson was charged with misdemeanor weapon possession and released on $200 bail.
I’m guessing that if I do the same thing — showing up at an airport with an unregistered handgun and no concealed carry permit — New York State wouldn’t be as nice to me.