The TTAG crew flies in and out of Austin Bergstrom International Airport fairly regularly since Austin, Texas is our home base. While I typically carry my firearms on my person in the airplane, Robert, Dan, and Jeremy are forced to check their tools at the ticket counter and rely on airport and airline employees to get their guns onto and off of the airplane.
It seems that one enterprising young man at ABIA took that responsibility as an opportunity to make some extra cash at the expense of others, and is now facing 20 years in prison.
A baggage handler who pleaded guilty Wednesday to stealing guns from passenger bags at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport now faces up to 20 years in prison.
Ja’Quan Johnson, 26, stole the items from checked baggage, including a .40 caliber Glock semiautomatic pistol, the Department of Justice announced. When the allegations first emerged, the Austin Police Department said Johnson had traded some of the stolen guns for marijuana.
Johnson pleaded guilty to one count of theft from an interstate shipment and one count of possession of a stolen firearm. By pleading guilty, the Justice Department says Johnson admits that between Nov. 29, 2016 and Feb. 2, 2017, he stole seven handguns from passenger bags at the airport.
The sad truth is that this kind of thing happens all the time. Whether it’s TSA agents lifting iPads or baggage handlers picking laptops out of checked luggage, there’s no guarantee that your personal belongings are safe when flying the, er, friendly skies. That’s one reason why I prefer to carry all my important luggage with me on commercial flights these days.
For those flying commercial flights with checked firearms, though, I recommend watching Deviant Ollam’s presentations on flying with firearms. He goes through a lot of information about how to pick the right cases, which locks are the most secure, and some tips for dealing with airport and airline staff.
Taking a little time to better prepare yourself and your firearms might mean the difference between a pleasantly quick airport experience and a nightmare of police and ATF reporting.