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“We do not speculate on why travelers bring firearms, loaded or unloaded, to airport security checkpoints. The fact that more firearms are being detected at the security checkpoints affirms T.S.A.’s continued vigilance in intercepting prohibited items.” – TSA spokesman David A. Castelveter in ‘T.S.A. Charts a Rise in Guns at Checkpoints’ [at nytimes.com]

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53 Responses to Quote of the Day: Vigilance Edition

  1. Look at the bright side, TSA is capable of finding prohibited items. It only took a decade or so to reach this level of competence.

  2. There is a specific way that you are supposed to bring an unloaded firearm in a TSA approved locked case for your checked baggage when traveling with a firearm and most of these so called detections are probably people abiding by the regulations for transporting a firearm lawfully.

    • You are wrong. Here the procedure for legally checking a firearm. I have used it many times. You take your TSA approved security contatainer to the baggage check-in counter. You demonstrate to them that the weapon is unloaded. Some airlines allow you to have loaded magazines in the case if you put masking tape over them. However, most require the ammot to be placed in an original container. You sign a certification that the weapon is unloaded, place in the container and lock it. Then, someone from the airline will walk it down with you to a TSA screener in the baggage receipt area and once it is screened you get a thumbs up. At this point you proceed to the security checkpoint without the firearm. If you arrive with it you have screwed up big time.

      • Some airports are now dispensing with the security screening for handguns and the “showing clear” process, although the owner does have to state that the gun(s) are unloaded and ammo is in the original packaging.

        You ask for a firearms declaration at the check-in line, fill out the dec form, put it into the container, lock it all up and go on your way.

        And while there is no official rule about it, at some airports people who check guns will often get a TSA precheck expedited screening.

      • Flying via DEN and IAD, I’ve never had to show the counter person checking my bag anything. Not how it’s packed, not if its empty, nothing. They’ve only made me sign the form stating that I’ve done what I was supposed to (and I did), and then I’m on my way with a TSA escort to a secondary screening.

        I’ve learned the hard way that I do NOT proceed to my gate after getting the thumbs up until I witness my bag actually making to the conveyor belt on its way to the plane.

    • Ditto! Saw the photo and was like “DOH!” Oh man, that would stink.

      I admit to personally donating like 6 small pocket knives to TSA when I realized one was in my pocket while checking pocket empty status in the security line haha. You know, when it’s on you 24/7/365 it’s easy enough to forget. But… that’s a small pocket knife (usually in my 5th pocket). I think I’d have to EDC a fiream for another 25 years before I ran the risk of being so dang used to it being on me that it didn’t even occur to me until I entered TSA security! That’s just… you know… wow.

  3. We do not speculate on why travelers bring baby formula, open or unopened, to airport security checkpoints. The fact that more baby formula is being detected at the security checkpoints affirms T.S.A.’s continued vigilance in intercepting prohibited items.

    • Friend of mine who worked a stint for TSA had all sorts of amusing stories, mostly about flyers to Mexico, wearing a week’s worth of clothes so they didn’t have to check baggage and the like.

      The best was the traveler who didn’t understand why the security checkpoint wouldn’t let him through with a chainsaw and a gravy boat (!) full of gasoline.

  4. @borg, the article says they were found in carry on bags at the security checkpoint. If people are unloading their guns, putting them in a locked, hard sided case, and then trying to go through security with them in their carry on bag, well, those people aren’t very bright.

    • Eh, I quit locking my luggage after my third TSA approved luggage lock turned up cut and in my luggage. There were two other locks that just turned up missing. These, of course, are incidents that can never happen, because there are protocols in place to prevent them.

      I just don’t fly anymore. The TSA is a waste of tax money and a scourge on the traveler. And, as former employees love to point out, it’s all just theatrics and ceremony. I wouldn’t doubt that any number of these supposedly confiscated items are staged or “seized” during exercises.

      • While I do not endorse specific TSA measures the idea that security theater is not useful is mistaken. It is part of a layered defense. The security theater is designed to increase the difficulty in penetrating air travel security defenses. It puts a planning burden on potential attackers that stretches the timeline and increase the probability that their plans will be frustrated. Does TSA behave in spectacularly inefficient manner? Sure, other countries are much better at it but the purpose is not to catch terrorists at the security check point. It is to force them to use more complex means. Catching an actual terrorist at the security check point is a system failure.

        • Private security was cheaper and provided the same level of security theater without the flagrant violation of rights. Sure, you can’t smuggle box cutters on planes anymore but the ONLY reason that even worked is because the old protocol was to cooperate because terrorists weren’t in the habit of blowing up planes. Now that people know they might die you could smuggle a bazooka on a plane and the passengers are no longer going to sit there like frightened sheep when you attempt to use it.

          We’re fighting the wrong war, as always. TSA is ridiculously expensive, laughably ineffective, and makes planning an attack no more difficult than it was before while burdening travellers, violating people’s rights and privacy, and putting the air travel industry in jeopardy of being a long-term viable business because of their presence.

          Any advantage we get by having them is offset by way too high of a cost, and not just in dollars. Everyone knows they are a joke. I seriously doubt terrorists give two flips about our new “security measures”.

        • All that may be true but I note that no terrorist has yet to board a airplane in the US since these measures have been put in place. This indicates that terrorists do take the security theater seriously. Your argument is like those who, at the end of the Cold War, said that all the money we spent on the miltiary was wasted because we never went to war.

          And tell me why our rights would be equally violated if private contractros were operating the security checkpoints?

        • I don’t know, I personally utilized a particular gray area multiple times to bypass “random checks.” And I witnessed enough well-dressed Caucasian men skip hold-ups with a well-bellowed, unverified, “Don’t you know who I am?” Not to mention attractive women of all races just being waved through with all kinds of (literal) alarms going off.

          Pretty sure anyone wanting to do real harm is more on the ball than an exasperated airman just trying to get back to base.

        • “All that may be true but I note that no terrorist has yet to board a airplane in the US since these measures have been put in place.”

          Depends on which measures you’re referring to. The shoe bomber slipped through during some of the strictest screening air travel has ever seen. The underwear bomber made it through the even more directed measures created because of that event.

        • American flight with either American or American-approved personnel providing a secondary screening. At least in theory (theatrically). Your move.

        • I was secondarily screened in London about the same time. The screeners cared less about secruity than TSA does. The fact remains that no terrorist on a mission has gotten through US airport security since 9-11 and a number of plots have been foiled.

          I look at airport screening the same way a battlegroup commnader looked at FFG-7 during the Cold War. Unilkely to find anything but an extra nuisance that required Soviet submarines to evade and/or target exposing themselves in the process.

        • The screeners you went through (by?) met the same certification as the TSA screeners at the time (provided the U.K-U.S. flight was an American (nation of origin, not brand) flight). We’re not discussing their attitude, remember, we’re talking about how effective their very presence is. I’m saying they’re actually detrimental, you’re saying the very idea they’re there is deterrent enough. I’ve given two specific examples where security theater failed utterly, but were saved once by alert flight attendants and once by pissed off Detroiters. You’ve said they don’t count because the security theater was only symbolic.

          I give up. I’m sure my arguments are as hollow in your mind as yours are in mine, and I hope this doesn’t weigh too heavily on any future issues we might actually agree on.

        • “…tdiinva says: All that may be true but I note that no terrorist has yet to board a airplane in the US since these measures have been put in place. ”

          I would like to sell you this Rock. This Rock will protect you from Tiger Attacks. I know it works as advertised because I have owned this Rock for many years and have never been attacked by Tiger.

          The TSA is simply selling us a Rock that is supposed to protect us from Terrorist.

          And we know it works because there hasn’t been a terrorist attack since the TSA was installed.

        • Here’s the real problem. The reason why it is called “Security Theater” is because anyone who understand security knows the measures are ineffective. Expensive, but ineffective. A typical government program.

          People who want to defeat security are not deterred by security theater. Hell, they are barely deterred by security that does work. As you said, if we are catching them at the security checkpoint, we have already failed.

          Unless we’re going to implement an Israeli style program, which would include profiling and intelligence training, our airports will always be porous. We cannot adopt an Israeli style program because we are too large and the measures would collide with political correctness.

          We had security deterrence before. Didn’t stop 9/11. Defeating current security measures is easy enough. As I said, TSA hasn’t passed a readiness check yet. Their procedures are well known and documented, as are the weaknesses in the system. We have had attempts, but passengers intervened. Also proving my point about attempting to smuggle on weapons or explosives in today’s environment. So what if their point of origin was not the US? Isn’t that just another weakness in our system? Inbound flights.

      • The way i see it, There hasn’t been an airline terrorist attack on US soil since 9/11 becasue the last one is still working so well.

        Seriously, who would have thought flying a plane into a building would cripple an industry for over 13 years!?!?!?!

        Please do not mistake my frustration with apathy. 9/11 was a terrible thing. So is continuing to let the acts of a few terrorists negitivly affect so many lives on a daily basis.

  5. More people carry. This is indisputable proof that guns are more common now then they were in decades past. And the crime rate is lower, blah blah. /preaching to the choir

    • And the obvious lack of familiarity with airline regulations indicates that it is people new to gun ownership as well.

  6. So maybe it’s a good thing I’m not getting any use out of studying law enforcement in college.

    One of the concepts hammered home in almost every criminal justice class I took, regardless of subject, was the importance of officer discretion. Officer’s were supposed to use their discretion when making arrests and the idea was that we don’t punish citizens who had no ill intent. I mean, if you accidentally took your “friend’s” cocaine and had it in your possession you were probably screwed but just the mere presence of a firearm did not mean someone was up to something. Or at least that is what I was taught in the 90’s. My, how times have changed.

    What really torques me about these seizures at airports though is that TSA, in an ongoing attempt to “prove” they are making us safer, act as though every seized firearm is a possible terrorist attempt thwarted instead of what is much more likely just someone who wasn’t thinking, didn’t check, or is blissfully unaware of airport regulations. In short, I seriously doubt any of these firearms were going to be used for anything illegal.

    In the meantime, TSA continues to fail every test of their readiness against a real attack. They can’t even pass their own readiness checks! Furthermore, if I were a terrorist I wouldn’t bother with a plane. All I have to do is leave a suspicious backpack in the long snaking security lines that have formed thanks to the TSA. I don’t even need explosives, I can just chuck some books in there, leave it all by itself, and the airport will probably get shut down for hours. Honestly, the only thing stopping an attack these days is that I think the terrorists are too busy overseas.

    • Every law has at least three aspects. First, there’s the written law. Second, there are the interpretations of the law by judges. Third, there’s the way the law is interpreted and enforced “on the street” by the LEOs.

      Guess which one matters the most.

  7. Made it all the way through with a full 8 round mag in the back pocket.
    When I sat down on a wooden chair, I realized. Oops.

    Metal detectors must have been turned off that day.

    • I once had a nail clipper WITHOUT the deadly, prohibited file confiscated. Unironically. Right next to the sign specifically listing it as allowed. If I’d had a lighter in the same tray, I probably could have slipped an entire Barrett through unnoticed.

  8. They also don’t speculate why they need to pat down a 95 year old lady but not the middle eastern man who can’t speak English.

    • Maybe Granny has 15lbs of explosive sewn into her cavity where her gall bladder was, and another 2 lbs. in her bra. It’s happened already.

      • . . . and if granny has her Semtex in the place where her gall-bladder used to be, just how is a pat-down supposed to detect it? Or, what if granny has it stuck, ah, somewhere that doesn’t require surgery? Does TSA now need to start inserting ‘sniffers’ in inopportune places? Or will one of those cool ‘swabs’ do the trick–you know, the ones that they swab on people’s hands and then ‘test for residue’ that never seem to detect anything, including smokeless-powder and primer residue that I KNOW was on my hands? Will you hold still for some TSA person swabbing YOUR, um, nether orifice for explosives?

        I thought not.

  9. TSA performances vary widely from city to city. Tucson they seem professional, never had issues with them. Philly…is a mess. I’ve seen personnel that were so overweight they were out of breath going from the elevator to the walking sidewalk 20 meters away, TSA personnel with a lame leg, and of course the usual only one lane out of six open with ten TSA agents standing around. For a security measure that was supposed to be “standardized” when coming under the Federal control, it has done no such thing. Also what particularly bothers me is that the original 9/11 hijackers did not bring anything illegal on the flight to hijack it.

    Just privatize it with frequent reviews and standards.

    • “…Just privatize it with frequent reviews and standards.”

      I compare TSA to the FAA.

      The FAA doesn’t provide the mechanics that work on the plane, they provide the standards the mechanics have to follow.

      The FAA doesn’t provide the pilots to fly the plane, the provide the standards the pilots have to maintain to be pilots.

      So why doesn’t the TSA do the same thing? The TSA can set the standards and then let the airports and airlines hire their own security. It puts the responsibility for the security back where it belongs and it satisfies many of the current unconstitutional (and in some cases Illegal) practices by removing them from the Governments responsibility.

      And even simpler, if a plane were to be hijacked today and then harmed in any way, that airline is going to sue the TSA directly for failing to prevent it from happening. And every family of every victim will do the same. And all of them will win because the TSA is supposed to stop that kind of stuff from happening.

      • The airline and the estate of the passengers might indeed sue, but it’s probable that the TSA is immune from civil liability after a terrorist attack. And just as courts have held the police cannot be held liable because of a failure to protect, the courts are likely to hold similarly if the case involves the TSA.

  10. As a certified security practitioner I can tell you that the layers of airport security theatrics do serve a few purposes:

    They deter unsponsored, amateur potential antagonists
    They remind the innocent that they are also suspects
    They help reduce unemployment of the otherwise unemployable
    They are immensely profitable

    Luckily for the flying public, the “test” bomb detection results remain classified.

  11. Just flew back from australia today. Don’t have to take your shoes off, but . . . Some fat chick at their tsa equivalent had a problem w my cigar cutter, which is allowed expressly in US travel. Go figure

  12. I’d also like to point out that while we waste a lot of money on airplanes, there are plenty of other great targets out there. Buses, trains, parades, basically anywhere with a crowd. This is why airline security is mostly useless. Its like if you have a bunch of doors leading to the same room (the room of mass murder) but you only lock one. You can’t dump huge amounts of money to defend every soft target.

    Plus there’s that quote where it says something like “we can’t keep weapons and drugs out of our prisons so why turn the whole country into a prison?

  13. Just out of interest- What is the gun below the HK P7? The trigger looks somewhat like the Lee-Enfield’s in a way.

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