Federal Air Marshals Having Trouble Handling Their Guns

federal air marshall service

courtesy patch.com

Remember, only trained law enforcement officers and the military are qualified enough to handle the awesome responsibility of gun ownership. But a number of federal air marshals who fly the friendly skies seem to have a problem responsibly wielding their gats.

The marshals undergo extensive firearms training…in theory.

Air marshals are required to undergo recurrent training that includes quarterly marksmanship evaluations and annual off-range safety courses, but a 2016 report by the Government Accountability Office found the air marshal service did not have complete and timely data on the extent to which its officers completed that training. (Thomas) Kelly, the air marshal spokesman, said TSA has implemented the GAO’s recommendations on how to better evaluate air marshal training.

However . . .

The Transportation Security Administration’s Office of Inspection has documented more than 200 cases of air marshals allegedly misusing firearms or misbehaving with guns between roughly 2005 and 2017, according to records obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

What kind of mishaps did the TSA inspectors find?

In 19 of the cases, air marshals allegedly fired their weapons accidentally. For example, the documents state that in 2017 an agent based in Charlotte, North Carolina, “unintentionally discharged a personally owned firearm resulting in a gunshot wound to his right foot.”
A 2013 case described an air marshal mistakenly firing his weapon inside a hotel room and damaging a television in an adjoining room.
More than 70 of the incidents relate to lost, misplaced or stolen weapons. At least three of those cases involved air marshals forgetting their firearms in airplane bathrooms. Two others involved weapons misplaced in airports.

The average American can’t possibly be trusted to avail themselves of the means of armed self-defense. Let them dial 911 if they have a problem and leave the firearms to the professionals.

Never mind that violent crime and accidental gun deaths have both plummeted over the last quarter century, a time period when the civilian gun ownership has almost doubled and the number of concealed carriers has soared.

And the fact that Americans successfully defend themselves with more than 1.1 million times a year is completely beside the point.

Those are all just NRA talking points. Or something. We need to make it much more difficult for Mrs. and Mrs. America to own guns. Because we all have a right to feel safe, right?


  1. avatar Andrew Lias says:

    They be spinning their gun around on their finger like pew pew and all.

    1. avatar Thomas says:

      Since TTaG refuses to give us a like or dislike. I will make my own
      There I did it.

  2. avatar Ralph says:

    200 cases in 12 years actually does not seem too bad. We don’t know how many FAMs there are, but at one point the TSA was recruiting and training 800 per month. So, I suspect that the percentage of screwups is small.

    As for leaving guns in toilets, I think that LEOs are trained to do that. It adds a little spice to the day and in some cases gets them a two week paid vacay.

    1. avatar L says:

      I would leave my gun in a toilet too if I was forced to carry a Glawk. It’d be right at home.

      1. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

        glock shaped urinal cakes and flush levers.

        1. avatar Jeremy D. says:

          Cant flush accurately due to grip angle

        2. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

          maybe a pull chain handle with finger grooves.

        3. avatar Jr says:

          I prefer Gen5 pull handles.

        4. avatar Rusty Chains says:

          The cut gen5 with the odd grip angle, no wonder aircraft bathrooms smell like they do!

  3. avatar Jr says:

    Is highlighting this suppose to help our cause? Pointing out when trained people screw up with guns isn’t an effective way to convince the public that untrained joe citizen will be just as or more safe with one.

    I mean, I get stories like this are interesting to report on a gun blog so go ahead but starting the article with the sarcastic “Remember, only trained law enforcement officers and the military are qualified enough to handle the awesome responsibility of gun ownership” seems illogical.

    1. avatar Baldwin says:

      “…illogical…” is having an expectation that gun-grabbers won’t try to take your RTKBA anyway.

    2. avatar MarkPA says:

      “Is highlighting this suppose[d] to help our cause?”

      I think you make a good point. Nevertheless, facts are stubborn things. And, since we PotG like to think that we are the adults in the conversation, I think it incumbent upon us to face-up to the facts squarely.

      The question – now – is what should we make of such facts? A superficial response is to ignore them; leave well enough alone. But that is not really good enough.

      Wouldn’t it be better to insist – by petitioning Congress for a redress of grievance – that appropriate agencies gather and publish data on such incidents from both the public and private sector?

      The Government Accountability Office might gather data from Federal agencies that have armed agents. Even the Department of Education has their own armed agents. We ought to know how many shifts each agency operates each year and how many gun incidents each agency has. E.g., one armed agent probably works 250 shifts per year. We should know if the average agent leaves a gun i a public toilet once a year; or, if 1 in 10 such agents to so in a year.

      The FBI has the apparatus to gather data from municipal police. However, Congress can’t mandate the states to submit reports. Nevertheless, Congress COULD if it WOULD order the FBI to compile and publish reports that it solicits from police agencies.

      We could know, for example, that some number – say 1,234 – agencies submitted such reports about their officers. How many shifts. How many incidents.

      Similarly, Congress could mandate that the FBI solicit, compile and publish data on municipal police agencies reports of civilian incidents.

      The data would be incomplete. Nevertheless, we would know HOW MUCH we know. E.g., if there were 2,345 municipal agencies submitting such reports we would know that we have 1,234 / 2,345 of the data. (Moreover, we would also know that these 1,234 agencies have a certain number of sworn officers and that they cover jurisdictions having particular populations).

      Do we civilians evidence greater responsibility than our finest in blue? I don’t know. Maybe we really do. But, if we don’t, then we know where to start the process of improvement.

      I’m not holding my breath for Congress to respond to calls for compiling data. I very much doubt that they want to publish data on public servants’ gun incidents. They wouldn’t want to publish that data EVEN IF government employees had fewer incidents than civilians.

      Nevertheless, we could show that we are the responsible gun-owners in the conversation by calling for the gathering, compilation and publication of the data – government and civilian alike. If we need to improve, we are ready willing and able to call our fellow PotG to account for our own behavior.

    3. avatar Perry says:

      How often are LEO at the range? I’m at the range at least every other week. I’m retired and have far more time than they do.

      Was at the range today. Learned something useful – both .308 and .40S&W. It’s too bad that LEO are only there once every six months, usually when it’s warm.

  4. avatar ROBERT Powell says:

    FIRST OFF, what was the blood-alchol in the marshal that shot his self in the foot???? second ,WAS THERE A SHOOTING BOARD CALLED??? the air marshals are required by charter like any federal marshal to practice SAFE AND SANE WEAPON HANDELING. THAT INCLUDES KNOWING WHERE YOUR WEAPON IS AT ALL TIMES….

  5. avatar Kyle says:

    They are reckless because they are indemnified and have full protection of the law from most firearms related negligence.

    Take that away from them, and this will change rapidly.

    1. avatar Southern Cross says:

      They are public servants that have been issued with firearms and they take the same attitude with their equipment as they do with their job.

      1. avatar Leighton Cavendish says:

        There are some very dedicated federal employees…and some that don’t care…just like many companies/organizations…
        Be careful about being a bigot…it does not just cover race and religion…just sayin’…

        1. avatar Scoutino says:

          In private sector you don’t have to screw up, just underperform, and see how long you will keep your job. Government employees can’t be fired unless their screw up is so colossal that it can’t be hidden or denied. And most of the time not even then.

  6. avatar BLAMMO says:

    Just like marginally [un]qualified TSA agents, there was a mad dash to hire (and ostensibly train) air marshals after 9/11. They might have even done background checks on some of them. They should have gone to the Air Marshal Store. I think that’s where you get air marshals.

    Or McDonald’s.

  7. avatar Jon says:

    Most cops only got 3 years of firearms training or experience around firearms. Hell I ain’t a cop. Have over 30 years of firearms training an experience. And our corrupt politicians want to disarm us Americans of our 2nd amendment rights. Yep makes sense

    1. avatar GS650G says:

      Most cops handle their duty weapon and maybe a long gun in the car at shift change and that’s it. They fire them when they have to. Unless they are gun guys.
      Most gun guys have a collection of various guns and take them to the range when they want to. They can clear a jam and load pistols in a variety of positions and conditions. They know the rifles are sighted in. I’ve actually shot at moving targets in the woods with success. I choose ammo carefully for its intended purpose.

      It’s why you see mag dumps when the SHTF. They have no fire discipline nor nerve. It’s also a group thing when several cops are lighting things up.

      But this is about leaving guns in places and mishandling the tools. We’ve all dropped things or maybe left an iron out when we shouldn’t have. But we aren’t paid to be responsible with firearms like these individuals. They’ve a higher responsibility. Kate Steinle would be alive today were it not for careless officials.

  8. avatar GS650G says:

    Remember the guns are to defend themselves not you. They are not your bodyguards, you need to pay extra for that or be a privileged member of government.

    1. avatar Mark N. says:

      Not so much with Air Marshals, since their raison d’etre is to prevent or interrupt hijacking attempts or other terrorist activities aboard aircraft. So it would be fair to say that they are being paid to protect passengers, air crews and aircraft, not just themselves.

      1. avatar jwm says:

        Plus the air marshal is on the same plane as the passengers. He will share their fate so he better not fukk up.

        1. avatar LarryinTX says:


  9. avatar Chris T in KY says:

    If the civilian government employees were treated like military personnel, any one of them who lost a firearm would at a minimum be demoted, fined $$$, and or placed in jail. Same for having a negligent discharge of their weapon.

    Civilian government employees are part of and make up “the swamp”.

    Any member of the “great unwashed” who committed these stupid acts, would receive the above punishment.

  10. avatar ollie says:

    Somewhat off topic, but, did Lupe’s gun ever turn up ?

    1. avatar General Zod says:

      Yep. The Sheriff’s department property room miraculously found it a couple of weeks later. Or they at least presented a similar pistol and identified it as hers…

      I mean, surely the interim sheriff she picked to replace her wouldn’t cover for her in an attempt to help her (pathetic) run for governor, right?

  11. avatar Green Mtn. Boy says:

    “Remember, only trained law enforcement officers and the military are qualified enough to handle the awesome responsibility of gun ownership.”

    Except when they are not.

  12. avatar DJ says:

    Im glad only professionals are competent enough to wield power.

  13. avatar Paul Dempsey says:

    I vehemently take issue to the ridiculous statement that only military and law enforcement persons are competent to have and use firearms.
    I hope you were being sarcastic. I hope you were trying to be funny. What bullshit!

    1. avatar LJPII says:

      Of course he’s being sarcastic. He’s only repeating what libtard politicians and activists claim.

  14. avatar Ansel Hazen says:

    This article doesn’t address carrying concealed and having to drop your drawers in a public restroom. Imagine if you will the very real problem of such a situation, people in stalls on both sides of you and now that it’s winter what’s on the floor with your pants is a full size automatic.

    1. avatar LarryinTX says:

      Heyzeus! A FULL size AUTOMATIC? Is that legal?

  15. avatar Perry says:

    Here’s the problem. Air Marshals are flying 24/365. Like all LEOs, there will be mishaps. With a large population it’s always possible to cherry-pick the mishaps.

    BLM had the same complaint. Statistics Matter.

  16. avatar possum says:

    Federal Air Marshall: So pigs do fly

  17. avatar bryan1980 says:

    I didn’t know that Barney Fife was an Air Marshal now!

  18. avatar Hannibal says:

    The Air Marshals have a cool name but the job is much less fun than you might believe. Most LE jobs are 95% boredom, 5% balls-to-the-walls but with FAMs you’re talking more like 99.5% boredom and .4% dealing with really stupid bullshit. .1% margin of error.

    Doesn’t attract the top of the line, and the top of the line that do get there probably don’t stay.

  19. avatar LJPII says:

    First of all, last time I checked, a LEO was only human, and flawed like the rest of humanity…and fully capable of fxcking up.

    Second, there’s plenty of non-LEO types who fxck up too…because, once again, we are flawed humans.

    Third, LEO’s do not create, write, implement, or what have you, laws, rules, or regulations. They are tasked with enforcing the laws that politicians dream up. LEO’s are not constitutional experts, scholars, lawyers, or judges. Nor do LEO’s always agree with the laws crooked politicians come up with.

    And four, LEO’s are not responsible for the blather that comes out of a politician’s or activist’s mouths.

  20. avatar james says:

    Somebody left a Hi Point in the men’s room and nobody wanted it.

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