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Ah yes. More deft LEO gun handling skills were on display at a security checkpoint at Hartsfield-Jackson International in Atlanta yesterday. Another Rhodes scholar candidate tried to slip a loaded .22 through a TSA checkpoint when it was detected by x-ray. The TSA monkey called in an Atlanta PD officer, and that’s when things really got dangerous…


Transportation Security Administration screeners reported the gun to Atlanta police officer N.J. Phillips, officer Phillips wrote in an Atlanta Police Department report. The gun’s owner was telling Phillips how to clear the loaded .22 magnum revolver when it was accidentally discharged, Phillips reported. “The weapon was pointed down towards the screening table.”

“I was grazed by a pellet fragment on the left side of my face,” Phillips wrote. “However, there were no visible injuries.”

This probably wouldn’t have happened if the gun owner had been flying Southwest.

(Gun owner Richard) Popkin said he originally intended to pack the bag in his checked luggage, but he removed it because he was concerned about the weight limit for his checked bag, according to the report.

Compliance tip for Mr. Popkin: you can’t just toss a loaded heater in your checked luggage and waltz onto a plane these days. The FAA and the airlines have some fairly specific rules for transporting guns and you’ll spend a lot less time being stripsearched if you do a little research first.

Which brings us to Officer Phillips. Did you really need Popkin to help you unload a revolver? Can it be possible that a (supposedly) trained big-city cop doesn’t know he needs to keep his frickin’ finger off the trigger? Or was this one of those evil, possessed guns that somehow just “goes off” on its own?

With the ever-increasing number of handguns that seem to find their way into luggage at TSA grope stations, maybe cops aren’t the right people to call in when one’s discovered. Maybe the NRA could help staff the security stations with certified gun safety officers. We’ll probably end up ventilating fewer x-ray machines – let alone travellers – that way.


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    • I agree, what Mr. Popkin was thinking?… But the Atlanta LEO fires a pistol in crowded airport, and so far no mention of any pending punitive action. Brilliant!

    • If you’ve never had a time where you didn’t consciously remember EXACTLY where every single one of your firearms is, you either don’t have enough, or they spend far too much time in the safe.

      In this case, it sounds like it may well have been an NAA revolver, in which case I can understand how this came to be an issue; They’re built to be tiny, not to be especially user friendly.

      • I own 7 handguns, a rifle, and a shotgun. Not all of them reside in a safe and I can tell you off the top of my head exactly where each one is, what brand/type of ammo each is loaded with, the location and number of spare magazines, etc. I have never “forgotten” about any of my guns.

      • I kinda have to agree with hsr47. I have a little .380 that I can not find for the life of me. I doubt it’s loaded, since I have found both mags, but for all I know the gun is in a bag or suitcase somewhere. I will definitely have to be careful next time intravel and triple search everything I take.

    • “HTF does anyone take a loaded .22 mag revolver to an airport and walk through security with it? How?”

      Depends on the airport.
      Only thing to stop me at local airports are the gun buster signs.
      In fact last time I went to an airport the window washer didn’t put the sign back up, totally legal for me to walk in.

    • Have you ever locked your keys in your car? That’s how.
      Stuff happens. It’s how it’s handled after things happen that defines a professional. TSA and some of the guys that work as airport police can be down right scary. Why would he try to unload it there at the screening area? Is there a clearing barrel? Has he ever handled a 22 revolver?

      People make mistakes, the difference is, the guy who made the mistake of carrying the 22 into security wasn’t gonna get anyone shot.

    • I just looked up the NAA mini… I thought my Browning Vest Pocket was a little scary, but this one wins!

    • Yeah, came here to post this. I can tell you exactly what happened:

      1) The gun was in it’s proper state for carry, which is hammer all the way down *between* any two loaded chambers. This concept was borrowed from the 1858 Remington percussion wheelguns(!).

      2) The proper thing to do as the first unloading step is “half cock” it, which is actually more like “one sixth” cock or so – in other words, hammer back maybe 3/16ths of an inch or so.

      3) Idiot cop gets this message and full-cocks it.

      4) Owner freaks out (rightly so!) and explains that no, the hammer needs to gently come back down.

      5) Cop fires it. Sigh.

      For the record: what you do is, you bring it just that little bit back to the first click, pull the base pin out the front, pull the cylinder. The trigger isn’t touched throughout.

      Setting it back up for carry is hairier!

      Hammer at “half cock” again, base pin out, cylinder in, base pin in. So far, easy. Now you line up one of the half-chamber “safety notches” in the cylinder with the hammer, ease the hammer back a hair more, pull the trigger, lower the hammer all the way into a safety notch. You can now carry it full-up loaded. It is seriously unlikely that it will accidentally half-cock and then the cylinder rolls into a battery condition. It can happen but it’s not very likely.

  1. I would agree that the cop was not the brightest of the bright, Yes bring in a guy from the NRA and he will instruct the cop on how to unload a revolver. Get two stupid people together and there will likely be a disaster.

  2. first off I work for TSA and I don’t appreciate being called a Monkey, 2nd off the officer is an idiot.

    • If you don’t mind my asking, what made you choose that field?

      See, if I worked for the TSA, I’d probably tell people I did something respectable, like selling drugs or playing the piano at a strip joint. But that’s just me, and I shouldn’t assume didn’t have a good reasons for making the decision you did.

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