Man with Loaded Ruger LCP Slips Through TSA Screening, Boards Plane


The TSA and their blue-gloved gropers have become a running joke. I say that not only as a somewhat intelligent American, but because I’ve seen it from the inside. I used to work as a risk analyst on a Department of Homeland Security contract analyzing the risks to American citizens from all sorts of threats including terrorism. I had access to classified information detailing exactly how inept the TSA was at performing their assigned duties. Hint: I make my peace with God before boarding any commercial airliner. A man in Atlanta proved my point yesterday when he boarded an airplane with a loaded handgun . . .

From the local NBC station:

A man says he brought a loaded gun through security at Atlanta’s airport and boarded a Southwest flight without anyone stopping him.

Blake Alford says he didn’t know the gun was in his bag until he arrived at his destination. Alford says it was an innocent mistake, but he felt that he had to come forward.

The problem with creating a truly effective screening process is maintaining constant vigilance. The average trainee probably can spot a handgun no matter what it looks like during training, but after endless weeks of repetition and sheer boredom with no firearms found, it’s easy to become basically useless. “Desensitized” is probably the best term for this. Complacent, certainly.

The fact is, it’s impossible to catch every single firearm that comes through the doors, and I’m guessing that this happens far more often than we hear about (mainly because once they realize what they’ve done, most people don’t want to come forward and admit they just committed a felony).

The TSA has been referred to as “security theater” and that’s pretty accurate. They don’t actually have to be effective to be effective — their existence is generally enough to deter even a competent most threats by even a relatively competent bad actor. The problem is that when a truly skilled, determined attacker comes along, that security we’ve been conditioned to believe will keep us safe is bound to fail. And probably in a big way.

What’s the solution? For me it’s simple — I bought my own plane. And I fly armed all the time. If you don’t have that option, there’s always the interstate highway system.


  1. avatar Gov. William J. Le Petomane says:

    I think if I were in his shoes I’d keep my mouth shut, lest the boys in blue come knocking.

    1. avatar Chris. says:

      No kidding! Why would you come forward???

      1. avatar Roscoe says:

        Well, if he claims he negligently left the firearm in his bag in the first place, his coming forward voluntarily and exposing himself to sanctions shouldn’t be such a stretch.

    2. avatar Jordan says:

      No kidding. The deed is done and no good can come from coming forward. Also he is under absolutely NO obligation to do so (5th Amendment). I see a jail cell in his future because he opened his mouth.

      1. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

        Reminds me of a guy in eastern Oregon who accidentally shot a wolf while coyote hunting. He told fish and game about it. Next thing he knows, he’s in shackles charged with a federal felony for killing an endangered animal.
        On the cusp of the state delisting the wolf.
        Shoot, shovel, and shut up.

    3. avatar Noishkel says:

      Admit to a federal crime? Are you serious? At that point I’d tattoo the friggin’ 5th amendment on my FACE before I’d call the TSA for anything. Let along this.

    4. avatar Cliff H says:

      Confessing to having committed this act is not the same as either proving you committed the act, nor the TSA or any law enforcement agency obtaining evidence that you actually committed the violation. Unless he walked up to a TSA checkpoint on his way off the plane and showed them the pistol I don’t think any prosecution would stand a chance. But then I am not a lawyer nor am I a rabid anti-gun prosecutor.

      1. avatar Kendahl says:

        A voluntary confession is the strongest proof of guilt there is. It gives prosecutors a slam dunk conviction for a crime they never knew had been committed. It can only be broken by proving that critical elements are false.

        1. avatar LarryinTX says:

          Horse manure. He was not under oath, all he has to do is say “I was lying” and the prosecution is over.

        2. avatar Timmy! says:

          I agree with Larry. Or, if they come knocking, start confessing to all sorts of other crimes. After telling them “I’m D.B. Cooper, and The Zodiac Killer, and The Boston Strangler… and I did it all because I’m also the Lindbergh Baby!” your credibility as a confessor is totally shot.

        3. avatar Gov. William J. Le Petomane says:

          Larry that all depends on who he talked to. If he ran to the press and blabbed about it, then the appropriate authorities came and asked and he told them he’s a pathological liar and no such thing happened then he’s probably in the clear. But you don’t have to be ‘under oath’ to be prosecuted and convicted of charges like ‘obstruction of justice’. If he ran to the police and made the claim and then retracted when he found out he’s about to be prosecuted for a felony, he’s at least looking at filing a false police report. Still, better a misdemeanor than a felony, but keeping your mouth shut is better yet.

  2. avatar Chris T from KY says:

    The overall security envolving airline travel has made the flying something only done when absolutely necessary.

  3. avatar Scott says:

    Why’d he fess up? It’s hard to believe that the feds won’t take an opportunity to put a gun owner behind bars, given their low opinion of us.

    1. avatar Gman says:

      I wholeheartedly concur. Why fess up to such stupidity and place yourself at their mercy? Yes, I wonder, exactly what kind of person “forgets” they have a gun in their carry on?

      1. avatar jwtaylor says:

        I’ve never forgotten the actual gun, but I have left more than one full Wilson Combat .45ACP magazine in the trash can at the security line. I had them in too many places and had to learn to consolidate.

        1. avatar Geoff PR says:

          For those who frequently fly, pack a self-addressed padded envelope with postage in your carry-on.

          It makes it a whole lot less expensive when you forget about something, be it Spyderco, Benchmade, Wilson Combat or other…

          As Steely Dan once said: “Send it off in a letter, to yourself…”

        2. avatar Roscoe says:

          @ jwtaylor

          …and expect a visit from the Postal Inspector and the ATF if it is a handgun.

        3. avatar Roscoe says:

          Rather @Geoff PR

        4. avatar Swarf says:

          How would they know, Roscoe?

        5. avatar Roscoe says:

          Do you feel lucky?

        6. avatar Defens says:

          Ammo in the trash, magazine in your checked baggage. Actually, I once talked with an LAPD officer about just that type of situation. An UNLOADED magazine is just a hunk of metal. It’s not even prohibited in your carry on – although some TSA agent might go into a snit about it. Empty mag in a checked bag is no problem at all, doesn’t require TSA permission, etc.

  4. avatar Gman says:

    I read in a related article that TSA found about 2,200 guns in carry on luggage last year. With a 10% success rate based upon recent tests, that means about 20,000 guns got to fly with their owners.

  5. avatar actionphysicalman says:

    I built my own plane for the same reason (to avoid the TSA, lines, diseases, etc). I sure miss it.

    1. avatar Geoff PR says:

      What did you have? A Van’s RV?

      1. avatar actionphysicalman says:

        A Pegazair P-100 (French Canadian STOL design) from plans. Rebuilt a Corvair engine for it.

    2. avatar LarryinTX says:

      I bought a BMW that goes faster than your airplane did! I fly overseas only, anywhere else I drive. WAY more fun.

  6. avatar Jazzdelaney says:

    What did you buy Nick? C-152? I’m jealous of your pilot journey!

    1. avatar Geoff PR says:

      You won’t be jealous of the bills he’s starting to rack up.

      Owning an aircraft is *not* for the faint-of-heart (or the light-of-wallet).

      But it is cruelly addictive…

      1. avatar Sian says:

        Plane n. Definition: A hole in the air into which you throw all your money.

        1. avatar Five says:

          Worse than a boat. If you aren’t generating some kind of income from it or using it for work,….. ouch.

    2. avatar Nick Leghorn says:

      1963 Piper Cherokee PA-28-180. She’s pretty, but the repair bills are already outpacing the fuel bills.

      1. avatar Bruce L. says:

        I always like the Piper Cherokee, but I mostly flew the little brother to the 180.

      2. avatar explainist says:

        have you ever seen a low wing bird? low wings are unnatural

        1. avatar LarryinTX says:

          Like F-15s? F-16s? F-22s, at $200+ million each? Boeing 787s?

      3. When ya gonna hook up the EGR gauges? 😀

      4. avatar Cambo says:

        I have a 1950 Aeronca Sedan. The motor overhaul has killed my firearm money.

  7. avatar David says:

    TSA agent must have been distracted groping innocent women and molesting small children.

  8. avatar Chip Bennett says:

    What’s the solution? I bought my own plane. And I fly armed all the time. If you don’t have that option, there’s always the interstate highway system.

    Was this conclusion intended to demonstrate absurdity by being absurd? If so: job well-done.

    Might there be other, tenable solutions that don’t require treating the law-abiding like criminals, and subjecting them to humiliation and violations of their rights?

    Let’s start with eliminating TSA, and letting the airports (or the airlines) provide their own security. Then, let’s stop disarming the law-abiding, and creating felons out of them for merely exercising their rights. Then, let’s implement real security, that psychologically profiles for terrorists and criminals, instead of sexually assaulting women and children.

    Just a thought.

    1. avatar actionphysicalman says:

      Getting and maintaining your own plane is less absurd than expecting to change the government.

      1. avatar Kevin says:

        We need to go back to the old ways to change the government.

        Tar, feathers, politician. Some assembly required.

      2. avatar Chip Bennett says:

        Government can’t be changed?

        I’m just going to leave this here:

        1. avatar actionphysicalman says:

          Nick has an airplane now. You and I’ve got hope for change (of some sort):-)

        2. avatar LarryinTX says:

          Cool link, Chip!

      3. avatar Defens says:

        Right – because the FAA that regulates what kind of plane you fly, how it must be inspected and maintained, how YOU must be inspected to be considered flight-worthy, where you can fly and land it, etc etc etc. isn’t a bureaucratic government entity….. (/sarc)

    2. avatar jwtaylor says:

      I took Nick’s suggestion to mean that I should drive a car, fly with Nick, fly myself, or fly with an LCP.

      1. avatar Andrew Lias says:

        In for Leghorn Air. Fly the polite skies. Why are they polite? Because they’re armed.

        Had a coworker carry a 4″ blade in his back pack through screening. Not altogether surprised. Their screen is like that one on the back porch of a house that’s falling down, you know full of holes.

        Seriously though, that pic makes me laugh. I can see that being a “well, I could do it so why not?” moment.

    3. avatar Gman says:

      If you really want to know about airport security, go to Ben Gurion Airport.

  9. avatar Shire-man says:

    Somebody asked me about encrypted communications last weekend because Capt. Clown Comey tried to renew the push for mandatory back doors.
    In my explanation I tried to get across the reality that the TSA, NSA, FBI, CIA, Big Y and whoever else are not the all-knowing, all-powerful valiant protectors the media, television and film portray them as but are instead just regular cube farm jobs where regular folks work not doing half of what fiction claims they do not only because most of what fiction claims they do is impossible from the outset but because they’re just wage-slaves like most of America.
    Sure, at the very tippy top there are highly qualified experts working on the bleeding edge of what is possible but those people, the few that there are, are not by a long shot evenly remotely similar to the people actually doing the work.

    I suggest if anyone out there still believes in Jack Bauer or know some poor schmuck who does just sit and go through some job descriptions and requirements for working as an analyst with any of the alphabet agencies. Even for working as a field agent or investigator.

    The difference between a guy keeping check on national security and hunting the all elusive and infinitely versatile terror threat and the guy managing the deli counter at the supermarket is not at all great.

    They aren’t glorious heroes. They’re clock punching desk jockeys who’d rather be anywhere but where they are and they posses no extraordinary training or skill beyond what a community college computer class certificate holder with a few months on the job could acquire.

    So when TV shows you NCIS, CSI and 24 they are fabricating stories. Pure fiction for entertainment purposes. And when the media gets on camera and talks about anything at all regarding national security they are either lying to make it all sound so much greater than it is for the sake of “Homeland” morale or they themselves are duped and dumb.

    1. avatar Billy-bob says:

      Just like the Good Wife episodes with the NSA wire tappers in them.

    2. avatar LarryinTX says:

      Don’t be screwing with Jack Bauer. I’m not sure we can save you.

    3. avatar Defens says:

      Does that mean that Jessica Chastain was not really the mofo who found Bin Laden? Dang……

  10. avatar Mr Pierogie says:

    You fly armed, Nick? That’s great, but didn’t YOU write an article before about how people shouldn’t bring guns on planes because they’ll shoot a tiny hole through it and everyone will die?

    1. avatar Nick Leghorn says:

      I did. The math changes when you’re in a small aircraft and can vouch for the competence of the people around you.

      1. avatar CGinTX says:

        Not to mention the lack of a pressure vessel surrounding you in the PA-28!

      2. avatar Bruce L. says:

        And most small planes fly below 10,000 feet, so no oxygen, or pressurized cabins.

      3. avatar MeRp says:

        A tiny hole in a commercial airliner is hardly an automatic death sentence for all aboard. It does mandate a relatively premature landing, since the plane’s pressurization will be difficult/impossible to maintain. But the body of the plane won’t just pop like some balloon or anything.

        1. avatar LarryinTX says:

          Absolutely wrong. I have 10 years as the pilot in command of a 4-engine pressurized jet aircraft, flying a couple models of -135 aircraft for the USAF, the equivalent of the old (retired) Boeing 707 airliners. And you can add in a coupe of much smaller pressurized aircraft to boot. The larger aircraft particularly leak like a sieve on their first day in service, 5 or 10 .45 holes in the skin would not ever be noticed, the system automatic controls would hardly move. Maybe with 200-300 holes, but I suspect more than 500 would be required to make a change in pressure noticeable. If a window popped out somehow (probably equivalent to a thousand .45 holes), the biggest danger would be to people near that hole, as the speed of outflow air would be pretty extreme, possibly dangerous, but pressurization would not be lost, although perhaps a bit compromised. This idea of a bullet hole in an aircraft skin having catastrophic consequences to pressurization is just one more gun-grabber LIE, on TTAG I hope we will not continue to give it credence.

        2. avatar LarryinTX says:

          I have to add, this sounds like the idea that if you let the pressurization out (or fire the bullets in a magazine), there is no way to refill the container, maybe we have a can of pressurization when we leave the ground, when it’s gone we are outta luck. Pressurization is from the bleed air from running engines, an absolutely huge amount even at idle, increasing with higher power settings. 99% of that bleed air is vented overboard, 1% used to pressurize the aircraft. Shoot some big holes, maybe 2% is used. By the time you get to 20% of available pressurization, you don’t have much airplane left, pressurization is the least of your worries. This is most definitely NOT a reason to prevent firearms on aircraft! Accidentally or deliberately shooting the pilot is such a consideration, pressurization is not.

  11. avatar bontai Joe says:

    I can not figure out why this person felt he had to come forward. He is obviously an idiot. I fly some internationally and years ago arrived in an Asian country with a single .22LR round in my carry on that was undetected thru 3 airports (pre 2001) I sure as hell didn’t turn myself in to the authorities in a foreign country so I could be thrown into a 3rd world prison for 10 years. I thanked my lucky stars and quickly got rid of it . And it was the last time I used my range bag as a carry on bag.

    1. avatar Wilko says:

      Just for info – if a person arrives in Singapore with a live round in their possession their legal system provides for a life term in Changi Prison.

      When I was working there in the early 2000’s a European tourist did a stopover in Singapore from Vietnam and was found to have a sculpture model airplane which had – you guessed it – empty, .30 cal rounds for engines soldered under the wings.
      She was detained for several days while the ‘investigation’ took place, and finally released to leave Singapore immediately if not sooner……

  12. avatar LJM says:

    Highway system isn’t foolproof, see New Jersey.

    1. avatar Chip Bennett says:

      The highway system is also impractical, when commuting weekly between Indianapolis, IN, and Boston, MA.

      1. avatar Craig says:

        Could also move to a few places called “New Hampshire”, “Maine”, or “Rhode Island.” Vermont would be a serious hike from say Bennington to Boston 5/40.

        I realize home is where you make it, but all Indianapolis has is a football team with a man with an Amish beard, shotgun-only deer hunting and a reputation outside of Indiana for meth heads and the Rust Belt. When I was a title searcher, 90% of the work I did for Marion County properties were pre-foreclosure or foreclosures.

        New England has 2 Constitutional Carry states, a state with no personal income tax or sales tax and a more prosperous economy.

        1. avatar Chip Bennett says:

          Freedom. Indiana has freedom. It also happens to be the best state in the Union – but I admit that I’m biased.

          And why would I move, for a client project that will last, at most, a year?

        2. avatar Craig says:

          Chip, if freedom is what you want, I seriously suggest looking into the Free State Project. Libertarians chose New Hampshire as the place to “trigger the move” towards a society dedicated to the principles of liberty.

          Or just take 93N out of Boston one day after work and see for yourself. A carry permit in NH has no training requirement, costs $10, and the words “hunting, target shooting, and self defense” constitute a valid need for a permit. And I got mine with that explanation in 4 days with no hassle, despite the fact that I live in a very left wing college town.

        3. avatar Chip Bennett says:

          …which completely misses the point. Why should I have to buy an airplane, or move half-way across the country, just to be able to travel efficiently without having my dignity infringed or civil rights violated?

  13. avatar Powers says:

    “For me it’s simple — I bought my own plane. And I fly armed all the time.”

    LEGHORN AIRLINES….. Range and Gun Store..Coming soon? Worth looking into. I’d fly if Brügger & Thomet or other firearms of my choice were rewards for miles, ammo instead of peanuts..

    LEGHORN AIRLINES (® © ™ patent pending etc)

    1. avatar Swarf says:

      “I say I say I say buclke up, son!”

  14. avatar Galtha58 says:

    The solution is to buy an airplane, learn to fly and then rent a place to put it and pay to maintain it ? Thinking there has to be easier, less expensive option. I fly from The Seattle area to Las Vegas and back couple of times a year. Spending one long day or two shorter days traveling each way in the car does not sound like an attractive option either. Think I will just take my chances with a regular airplane ticket and the Gropers.

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      Hmm. I wonder if there is a possible business model for a private charter that would allow armed passengers?

      1. avatar Cliff H says:

        I’ve often wondered the same thing. You would think that an airline that advertised that you were allowed to smoke on your flight would have a chance at a significant market share, even though smokers in general are a declining demographic. By the same token if a charter airline at its own gate openly advertised that properly permitted passenger could fly with their sidearms and checked long arms they would find a market. They would also be the least likely airline in the world to be hijacked.

    2. avatar LarryinTX says:

      I travel from Austin to Las Vegas, Virginia, Florida, etc, and back 2-3 times a year, and driving is absolutely delightful, I always take an extra day or 2 to explore National Parks, etc, and I often look for a different (new) route. Why does everyone seem so determined, any more, to avoid even seeing this wonderful country? My first wild-assed trip was on a puny motorbike when I was 15, headed off on a 1000 mile round trip adventure to visit my grandparents in 1963. And I am STILL not finished looking at mountaintops and deserts. Flying is fine, other than the constantly shrinking seat space, but the waiting in lines and having 10th grade dropouts poke and prod me for hours on end is offensive beyond belief. It is true, I’m retired and have lots of time to travel, but if I were still employed, I’d be looking for an excuse to drive MY car, not a rental, because that is for the fun involved, and a rental chevy volt is not gonna substitute for a turbo Beemer with the top down.

  15. avatar DAN V says:

    This Nick guy brags a lot about money.

    1. avatar Swarf says:

      You should see Farago’s daily carry piece and keychain.

      1. avatar LarryinTX says:

        Bra-a-ap. You should see my watch. Nick’s Piper couldn’t hold my interest, we are not pretending to all have equivalent resources, we are sharing similar opinions and knowledge on the subject of firearms. In that, your knowledge may be equivalent to Nick’s or RF’s, your experience may be valuable to us all. Worrying about your imagined slights does not contribute.

  16. avatar Mykque says:

    Since TSA is just security theater, perhaps we should move it out of Homeland Security and put it under the National Endowment for the Arts. Then it could hire underemployed actors and expect better performance.

  17. avatar Paul53 says:

    Meanwhile a terrorist takes the cabin crew hostage with an 8oz tube of toothpaste!

  18. avatar Swarf says:

    The TSA is such a clown car of inept goobers that they couldn’t even shut this guy up before he blabbed to the press and showed what a bunch of inept goobers the TSA is comprised of.

  19. avatar Indiana Tom says:

    I used to work as a risk analyst on a Department of Homeland Security contract analyzing the risks to American citizens from all sorts of threats including fundamental Lutheranism. The 30 years war was all their fault. The Muzzies of course are not a threat and are of the religion of peace.

  20. avatar Matthew says:

    The same thing happened to me a few weeks ago, only it was fireworks and not a gun. I wanted to call and report the failure but I didn’t want to implicate myself in a felony.

  21. avatar JohnF says:

    I travel almost every Monday morning on business. I do carry-on luggage, not checked. This past summer, I was getting ready for a two-city trip. My wife and I had some family events over the weekend and I got crunched for time on Sunday evening, so I asked my wife to help me pack. It was a warm week and I asked her to find a pair of shorts to put in the suitcase. She found a pair, rolled them up and put them in there.

    I flew into Newark, NJ. A couple of days later, I decided to wear the shorts in the evening and found I had left a J-frame speed loader in the cargo pocket with five rounds of .38 +P JHPs in it! Not only had I gotten through TSA at my home airport with that in the suitcase, but I found myself in NJ with hollow-points, which are illegal in that state. What’s more, if I hadn’t decided to wear those shorts that evening, I would have had them in the suitcase later in the week, when I flew to city #2. I wiped the rounds and the loader down with an alcohol wipe and disposed of all of it in a way that it could not be traced to me and likely no one would every find it. Taught me a lesson.

  22. avatar Curious George says:

    Hey Nick, any idea when the APC9 hits stores? I’ve been looking for one everywhere, and I don’t know who to throw my money at.

  23. avatar Hannibal says:

    Slips through? Might as well have tripped through. It’s the TSA.

    Let’s play a thought experiment. One of the TSA’s jobs is to stop bombs from getting on planes, right? Suicide bombers and the like are a threat and that’s why we all have to go through porn machines or get felt up.

    So what if the TSA was checking someone for a bomb and they found one? If you’ve ever been to an airport here in the States you’ll remember that they do these checks in busy areas with hundreds of people standing around. So what happens if they find someone with a suicide bomb right there at that magic checkpoint?

    Yeah. It’s worse than security theater, it’s not as benign as that.

  24. avatar Dustin says:

    Maybe his desire to see the TSA exposed for the complete bS that it is, is more important to him than his selfishness?

  25. avatar PeterK says:

    I want to buy my own plane and fly myself everywhere!

    You are a pretty cool, guy, Nick.

  26. avatar SuperG says:

    The poor man is going to be arrested and charged and could do 5 years in prison. The only people allowed to commit federal felonies and get away scott-free are the rich and powerful. So I’d recommend what Surepeme Court Justice Thomas did, when confronted with the fact that he committed a federal felony for not disclosing his wife’s 800K in speaking fees, and just say what he said, “I forgot”. It worked for him! He was never charged.

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