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“A luggage ramp crew retrieved the .38-caliber handgun after it tumbled from a duffel bag they were loading onto Alaska Airlines Flight 563 to Portland, Ore,” reports. “The owner took a later flight to Portland, and the gun was turned over to police.” And this is news? It is (to the LA Times) and it isn’t (to anyone with an ounce of common sense). Like, wait for it, the TSA . ..

TSA spokeswoman Lorie Dankers said the bag had been screened for explosives and none was found. She also noted that because the firearm was in a checked bag, the passenger would not have had access to it during the flight. Dankers said the TSA screens for firearms stowed in carry-on luggage but that it was not the agency’s responsibility to detect firearms in checked luggage.

So . . . what? So we have to blame someone (other than the firearm’s owner) for the fact that a gun—a loaded gun—almost made it into the hold of an airplane outside of a federally mandated locked container.

I know! Let’s ask the LA Airport Police union rep who’s responsible for this DANGEROUS mistake. I don’t mean he’s responsible, or any of his members. Perish the thought. I mean let’s ask him who is.

“Although representatives of both the TSA and the airline said they were following established policies, Marshall McClain, the president of the union that represents officers in the Los Angeles Airport Police, said the TSA should more thoroughly screen luggage.

“Local law enforcement needs to know that TSA is doing their part,” McClain said.

To be fair, the TSA doesn’t screen checked baggage. McClain knows that right?

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  1. The statement about TSA not screening checked baggage is not entirely true. My wife flies frequently and about every other time she gets a note in her luggage that TSA did a search of her bag.

  2. It isn’t worthy of a news report yet the owner should have unloaded the gun and secured it within his luggage so it didn’t go tumbling out.

  3. I don’t understand your comment about TSA not screening checked baggage. In every airport I’ve ever been through, checked baggage is “screened” by running it through x-ray machines.

  4. Isn’t the owner of the firearm required to declare the weapon at checkin? More to the point; isn’t the flier required to meet certain guidlines to fly with a firearm secured in the hold of the aircraft? Specifically; unloaded and in a locked container. Plus, it’s a good rule to put a lock on your bag so it won’t mysteriously open and have your posessions ‘tumble out’.

    • You usually can’t lock your luggage. You can lock the firearm in a case inside the luggage (which you may be called on to open to allow them to inspect) but you can’t lock the suitcase since they do random searches (and locking your bag is a great way to ensure one)

      • Hmm, didn’t think of it like that. I usually lock by suitcases when I fly. I always carry a firearm and I declare it at checkin. I’ve found that no one has ever told me not to lock my bags. But I’ll keep that in mind for future reference.

      • You can lock your luggage with TSA approved locks. The TSA has a little key to open them. The locks aren’t much protection but it will keep some opportunistic people out. I use them when I fly everytime. One for the main bag and one for the firearm case inside. The locks are available just about everywhere.

  5. I had my bag rifled through, and a pretty obvious albeit casual attempt to steal a checked handgun was made. I had hard case locked & stowed in my GI duffle bag. The padlock was gone from the duffel, one lock defeated on the hard case, one left, and there were obvious tampering marks. So I did what I thought was the correct thing and called airport cops.
    They couldn’t have cared less. Seriously, this guy was like “I didn’t know you could even have a gun on an airplane, is that legal?” I didn’t even open the case, because I figured, you know maybe they would want to investigate… Nope.

    So, unless there is an easy conviction involved ( namely, the honest gun owner ), you can darn well bet that nobody will do anything to find someone trying to steal firearms from checked luggage.

    It’s all security theater and I want my money back.

  6. Tumbled from a duffel bag somebody opened and/or cut the lock off. I like Deviant’s method for transport better.

  7. I can hear the bagage handler as he talks to his fence: “Geez, I was just trying to rip off some guy’s jewelry, and a gun fell outta the bag.”

  8. 35 years with three different airlines (not my choice), and never saw one person rifling (pun intended) through bags marked firearms. And yes I have seen my fellow employees with open bags, but I would have to say in every incident, it was because some ones bag came open and we were trying to get all of their crap back in!

    The traveler is suppose to declare if they have a weapon and that it’s unloaded, and yes TSA does check checked bags.

    Many years ago with my first airline, a passenger had a loaded, 25 caliber, semi auto in his duffle bag, and it went off striking a very good friend and coworker just above his eye. To this day, he still has bullet fragments left in the bone above the eye. And a few years later, a United ramp service employee was shot and killed when a loaded 357 magnum went off.

    So for those of you that travel with your weapons, please unload and declare!

    • I’ve had enough bags destroyed by careless and negligent handling by airport personnel that a little hint of danger to encourage some restraint in the bag slinging isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

      I’m not advocating loading checked guns, I just think a little teensy bit of blame should go to the guy chucking someone else’s property around like a shotput…

  9. I work in the firearms industry & travel a fair amount overseas. Whenever I get back to the US ( or at least 70%) of the time I am sent to some sort of secondary screening. The best “funny” was when I came back from Finland & was sent to the agricultural inspection area. They went through all my bags & asked me a number of questions. When I asked why I was being screened they told me they were looking for grapefruit. Grapefruit from Finland in February ??? I guess that would be a heck of a dangerous fruit as the average temp when I was in Finland was -20!

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