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(courtesy Google maps)

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics reports that U.S. airlines carried 642 million scheduled service passengers in 2013. reports that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) found 1,813 firearms in carry-on baggage that same year. That’s a very small percentage, right? You know what’s even smaller? The number of terrorist attacks on or using airplanes in 2013. Now you could say that the TSA’s ballistic intervention is somewhat, partially, maybe even just a little bit responsible for that lack of in-fight terrorist activity. Or you could think . . .

the whole thing – the document checking and groping and warrantless searching – is nothing more than security theater – as not one of the “gun smugglers” was arrested for terrorism.

I know we’ve discussed this before, but I’d like to point out that the Wall Street Journal doesn’t put any of these “guns confiscated at airports numbers” into context. Save the idea that 2014 is on the way to becoming a banner year for TSA gun finds (“As of the end of June 2014, the TSA has already found 1,025 guns”). I’d also like to defend my position – that Americans should be allowed to carry on airplanes – using an argument from a 2012 post.

It really is f’g twisted.

We all have to remove our shoes every time we board an airplane, because one guy, one time, tried (and FAILED) to set off a small explosion in his shoe.

We all have to turn in our beverages at airport security because, blah blah something something hypothetical about liquids and explosives. Something, again, that has never happened because a passenger carried a drinking beverage onto the flight. But we all have to do it. Because the authorities decided.

Meanwhile weapons that are designed to kill other humans instantly, from a distance, are legal and in the hands of all kinds of people (some well adjusted, some insane, some kinda in between). All kinds of people, all owning guns, all around us. And tragic murders from gun violence happen every day.

It’s also interesting to note that we trust all these people to have guns everywhere else, but not on planes. Why not? Wouldn’t we all be safer if everyone on a plane was armed? (I haven’t googled it, but I’ll bet the gun nuts have already argued this very point.)

See what he’s done there? He’s bitched about unnecessary TSA searches and then pointed out that TSA gun searches are also surplus to requirements, because we allow the general public to carry firearms elsewhere. OK, John Aravosis was being ironic. But I agree!

Legally armed Americans should be allowed to carry on planes, buses, the halls of Congress, schools, factories, anywhere and everywhere. Yup, guns everywhere. That’s my policy. Sure, someone with a firearm might “try something.” But as we’ve learned – as we continue to learn – that’s true anyway. And then good people have to wait (i.e. get wounded and/or die) until the good guys with guns show up (e.g., Newtown).

I reckon that crediting the lack of terrorist attacks aboard airplanes to TSA screening is a great landing at the wrong airport. I bet the more-than-welcome dearth of in-flight terrorist attacks has more to do with making cockpit doors impregnable and establishing a protocol for pilots to leave the cabin. Am I wrong?

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  1. Good work, TSA! Based on your current budget, you spent over $19 MILLION for each confiscated gun. Because of you, TSA man, our nation is secure. Dead broke, but secure.

    • I’m a security guard at an international airport and while I need the money, I’m getting real sick of being a part of security theater – because that is exactly what it is. I deal mostly with employees and it only took me about a week to realize that it would be easy to sneak a multi ton vehicle bomb into the airport. Not to mention that it would be child’s play to smuggle a firearm into the secure area of the airport. Heck, we get told all the time how employees are smuggling drugs on planes and such. It’s no more difficult to smuggle a gun on a plane using the same methods. I think the only reason that there hasn’t been another shooting or hijacking is simply because if there was a plot to do so, it never progressed to the execution stage in the first place.

      In reality, all the laws that have been passed, all the restrictions that we endure are simply to provide peace of mind to those who would rather give up a measure of freedom for the illusion of safety. It holds true with the idea behind the attempts to restrict arms to the military and police as well. What people forget is that somewhere along the line you have to trust someone. Whether it is the TSA or the airport employees themselves, someone is going to have to be trusted not to stab us in the back (metaphorically speaking). It doesn’t matter how many agencies we have watching each other or how many layers of security we endure. At some point someone will simply have to be trustworthy.

      While airport employees are hardly perfect (drug smuggling, etc) the simple fact that not one has taken a gun onto an airplane and shot it up tells me that perhaps we should not be so afraid to trust ourselves (i.e. the general population). To sum up my feelings on the subject, I believe there will never be an adequate substitute for being responsible citizens.

      • Well said.

        If we did trust the general population (like we did in the twentieth century), the vast fear-based Antiterrorist Industry would collapse almost overnight.

    • Completely true.
      We have spent millions confiscating less than 2000 guns per year from people who aren’t terrorists.
      I am willing to bet that the majority of those confiscations were just people who made a slight mistake in the process of sending a firearm in luggage.

  2. I think the TSA should put a bomb on every airplane themselves. I mean, what are the chances of there being TWO bombs on the same flight? This would make it mathematically impossible for anybody to ever sneak bomb on a plane. Think of all the children that could be saved!!!

  3. It ain’t gonna happen. Remember the outpouring of protests (from flight attendants no less) when the TSA proposed lifting the ban on pocket knives? Can you imagine the national and vocal outcry if they allowed guns?

  4. Flying isn’t a right, if the airlines themselves want to ban people from carrying guns on the plane then they will and can. As for the shoe bomber, the only reason the bomb failed is pure luck and the fact the suicide bomber decided to follow the no smoking policy of the hotel he stay at. If we didn’t check shoes these days they would keep using that viable tactic.

    • Not hardly. And you don’t mention the many, many actual weapons and explosives the TSA misses… even when planted by the TSA or other “agencies.” The TSA is a sham and a farce.

      The thing you miss with the travel as a “privilege” thing is the fact that no airline has the option of offering flights for armed individuals… Of course they have the right to prohibit what they wish on their airplanes, but by the same token have the right to welcome what they want, and what their customers want, as well. None of our “rights” are being recognized.

      I’m not flying commercial again until the boarding agent offers me complimentary frangible ammo for my carry gun – their choice of brand.

    • Yah really think so? Remember, there was ANOTHER weird bomb attempt! Yet no one has suggested we should have to take off our underwear to go through the checkpoint, and it would be so easy just to stuff them in our shoes so all could be checked together. And no one has continued to use that viable tactic.

      If the carrier is not to be arrested and charged, then his gun should be returned and he should be cleared to carry it on future flights.

  5. It’s all Kabuki theater…

    Meanwhile weapons that are designed to kill other humans instantly, from a distance, are legal and in the hands of all kinds of people (some well adjusted, some insane, some kinda in between). All kinds of people, all owning guns, all around us. And tragic murders from gun violence happen every day.

    Is he bashing the Federal “agents” again? I’ve seen numbers of arms-bearing Federal agencies in DC ranging between 85 and 127. NOT DC MPD. Federales. That’s an awfully large number of Federal po-po running around in DC with gunz during the workday. But after 6 p.m. you’re pretty much on your own. Still.

    That’s absurd.

    And at the airports? If they’re not on break or yakking with each other about the latest union victory, the brave po-po are at the passenger pickup area checking out the “chicks.”

    That’s absurd.

  6. You can carry guns when you fly – just get your own plane. Granted it can tricky if you have to divert, and transit on the ground – but it is doable.

    Everyone seems to forget that commercial airliners are in fact that – businesses. They can choose to enact policies like this of their free will.

    Even if it was permissible from a TSA standpoint to allow this; no major airline is going to do this – it’s not going to make them money, and their insurers would freak out. Bottom line – it doesn’t make business sense.

    • After all the recent propaganda, that seems likely, doesn’t it? Yet a lot of us remember back in the day, and I do not recall ANY airline EVER having a policy on firearms, beyond mild discouragement. The prohibitions have been federal. Possibly why hijackers always claimed bombs, giving the possibility that shooting them would detonate the bomb.

  7. “All kinds of people, all owning guns, all around us. And tragic murders from gun violence happen every day.”

    Needs to get out more… All kinds of people for thousands of square miles around me here are armed, many all the time. No “tragic murders” (are there non tragic “murders?”) or “gun violence” here in the ten years I’ve been resident.

    All of our guns must be defective or something…

  8. Yep; everywhere; just have frangible ammo that won’t penetrate the airplane skin (but it is an overblown fear about depressurization anyway) . It is all for show without an ounce of real prevention because the check on luggage isn’t checked. 10 lbs. Of That Which Shall Not Be Named on a timer, and no terrorist would be harmed unless he wanted to be with the seventy virgins.

    The TSA, (Terrible Soulless Abomination), is a waste of our tax money that only serves the purpose of conditioning the American people to further erosion of our right from warrantless search and seizure.

    And it is doing it’s real purpose very well.

    • I flew pressurized airplanes for USAF for 20 years. Fear of depressurization due to .5 inch or less diameter bullets is not overblown, it is stupid. There I absolute zero possibility for any major damage to the airplane, depictions are pure fiction. If someone is shooting, you need to worry about the bullets hitting you, never mind the aircraft skin. Shooting holes in the engines, now, you could have a problem.

  9. IMO, its not even worth it for a terrorist to smuggle a bomb on a plane. Why not waltz into the 500+ people long line for the TSA checkpoint and blow the bomb when you are in the center of the turnstyles?

    Tada! Waiting in line now the most terrifying part of flying. No gun needed.

    • Domodedovo airport in Russia had exactly that happen. 37 killed, 87 inured.

      And if you used my local airport as an example of what ‘could’ happen…. twice a week when the cruise ships get it you can easily have 200 or more people in line at just about any security checkpoint in the airport (there are several). Someone intent on finding out if there is an afterlife could do an insane amount of damage to the airport and rack up a body count that makes me ill just contemplating it.

    • See, in my former line of work that’s called “Risk Analysis.” Try to avoid doing that. It makes the livestock unsettled.

      The only part of the RA that you missed: You have a better chance of hitting Megamillion than you do of being blown up waiting in line. If that was not true, your life insurance would be void if you bought an airline ticket. Actuarial tables don’t lie – they just calculate.

  10. Since it is legal to fly with firearms in your checked luggage (, I’m wondering what the ratio of confiscated to legally-flown firearms is.

      • Exactly. There is only one possible reason to require bags containing guns to be marked and identified, and the guns contained in a hard case within the luggage, in order to be carried in checked baggage. That reason is to ease theft by employees. TSA or simple baggage handlers.

  11. And here we go with all the predictability of an R51 post.

    No matter how much TTAG wants to bitch and moan about guns not being on planes, they I’m still waiting for an answer to some very basic, fundemental questions concerning airline carry–

    1) Who. Everybody? Because terrorists aren’t smart or well funded enough to stack the deck on a flight with operatives operating, or are you just that naive? Wait, not everybody? Who gets to decide when and where and how many? Obviously not the federal government, who you do not trust. Maybe the airlines, whose motives are profit, profit, profit? Oh, how about only those who are qualified? Again, who is the agency deciding who can airline carry?

    2) Who the hell cares! I’ll take my chances in a gunfight! Along with 300 other men, women and children that you are about to start a fight utilizing your dubious marksmanship skills. Oh sure, of course you’re a 10-ring badass, but Joen00b carrying a couple rows back? Not so much. If you screw up, it’s not only you. Unlike the mall, the other passengers can’t run because of your fuck up. Without specialized training (see bullet #1 for certification BS), you have the distinct possiblity of killing everybody aboard that aircraft. Terrorist camps have been found with hollowed out airline cabins specifically for working in that environment. Have you?

    3) But at least we go down freeegrrlglglgllglllgzzz! And while you’re going down with that thought, say a prayer for the people on the ground because you decided to cowboy up, in addition to the people screaming in terror around you. You. fucking. arrogent. prick.

    So if you haven’t banned this post yet, know that I’m not against carry on an aircraft. What I am against is this blog using the talking point as its whipping boy on a slow news day. You push this line of BS time and time again while ignoring the disasterous pitfalls inherant in this policy. If you would at least present a well thought out alternative to bring your idea to fruition while minimizing these risks, I’d cut you some slack. But you don’t. It’s all “RAAHAhahahah 2nd amendment carry on a plane fuck the consequences TSA TSA TSA rrRRRraahahahHAHH!”

    In other words, you can bitch about this talking point every chance you get, but until you actually sit down and build some coherant alternative to be picked apart and critisized by peer review instead of hiding behind the safety of ambiguity, by all means shut the fuck up already.


  12. I agree – guns everywhere! Except maybe in a pressurized tube traveling 300mph @ 30,000 feet and jam-packed so full you can’t itch your own elbow let alone draw and accurately use a firearm. Don’t poison a whole well of truth and knowledge with one battshit crazy opinion. Talk about giving the anti’s ammo.


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