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Even among the TTAG crew there’s disagreement about whether allowing concealed carry on an airplane is a good idea, but the fact of the matter is that firearms are universally banned within the “secure area” of an airport (with some law enforcement exceptions). Nevertheless thousands of firearms are found at TSA security checkpoints every year which doesn’t include the 96% of weapons the TSA fails to find. It sounds like TSA got a second bite of the apple with a Southwest Airlines pilot who was arrested with a firearm in his carry-on at the Albany, NY airport.

A Southwest Airlines pilot was arrested on a weapons charge in New York Monday after airport security officers discovered a loaded handgun in his carry-on bag.

Erik Gibson, 55, was slated to pilot a flight to Chicago when Transportation Security Administration officials found the .380-caliber handgun during a routine screening, Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple said.

There is a program called the Federal Flight Deck Officer program which deputizes pilots as federal law enforcement officers and allows them the same ability to carry firearms on airplanes as other approved law enforcement officers. Participants are required to identify themselves during the screening process so they can be screened in private and not alert the other passengers. The pilot in question apparently didn’t do that, so it sounds unlikely that he was a participant in that program.

How did the pilot get a gun in New York, one of the states with the strictest gun control in the United States? Well, his trip originated in New Oleans, Louisiana where he used his “Known Crewmember” credentials to skip the normal screening process where the firearm might have been identified. He then flew to Albany and, when coming back in through security, was subject to the normal screening process where the firearm was found. That opens the question as to how many other pilots using the Known Crewmember lanes at airports are illegally carrying firearms, which is unknown.

Something else of note is how New York handled this incident. New York doesn’t hand out concealed carry permits for non-residents and doesn’t really do the whole “reciprocity” thing, and beyond that they require registration of all handguns within the state. In this case none of those regulations were satisfied, but it sounds like the pilot is getting off easy.

Apple said Gibson was charged with misdemeanor weapon possession and released on $200 bail.

I’m guessing that if I do the same thing — showing up at an airport with an unregistered handgun and no concealed carry permit — New York State wouldn’t be as nice to me.

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  1. Giant fuel filled airborne machine packed with helpless humans we trust you with, small caliber firearm we don’t.

    • Jet fuel isn’t particularly volatile though. On the other hand, I am not doubting that you have seen small arms damage aircraft. Pilots and other cockpit targets excepted though, I wonder what the chances someone could bring down an airliner from the inside with a hand gun and a couple magazines even if they were trying.

        • Let’s not give any ideas
          It’s bad enough having dirtbags loading their shoes with PETN on planes.

        • Modern jet engines have around the parts of the engine that are rotating fastest (The ‘hot section’) shielding of some type, similar to ‘scatter shields’ race cars have around engine transmissions.

          It’s *possible* a handgun slug could do it, but by the time it fought its way *out* of the cabin through the fuselage or the Lexan of the triple-pane windows, I doubt it could do real damage to the turbofan, especially since it was a .380.

          Not that I’m interested in any way of someone trying that experiment while I’m airborne…

      • I’m pretty sure he was referring to using the jet itself as a projectile twin tower style.

        • You are correct. I didn’t grasp what he was saying at all this morning. It is quite clear when I read it now though. Maybe I need a brain scan or something.

        • So now pilots are to be among the chosen ones? Along with LEOs, medics and military veterans?

          Nope, they get to follow the same rules us non-chosen one folks do.

        • “Jet fuel can’t even melt steel beams.”

          The heat of the fire will *soften* the steel enough so that the beams can sag, rivets to tear out, etc.

          It won’t turn it into a liquid puddle, but it damn sure will weaken it to the point the weight of the building can collapse.

          And once you have a slab of concrete one foot thick falling on the one below it, *nothing* will stop that progressive collapse…

        • Geoff:

          Another problem compounds what you’re talking about. Buildings with steel frames are built in ways where the load is distributed specifically so that welds and rivets take a load they’re meant to take. “Removing” one places undue stress on the remaining welds and rivets.

          Do this enough and you guarantee an eventual collapse just like pushing on the first domino in a chain.

          On top of that, the reason a lot of CWI’s are such dicks when welds are being placed on a structure is because the weld has to be the right kind of weld to hold given shocks the building may take or the force of wind. Any ol’ weld won’t do, various welds have to be properly run and placed with proper penetration and proper weld caps so that they transfer force appropriately rather than, in some cases, magnifying the force or changing it into a sheer force as it passes through the weld. To this end, every time there’s an earthquake in Cali welding engineers and metallurgists rush out to study failures in an attempt to improve the way buildings are built. A year or two later the rules for structural welding change a bit.

          There’s been A LOT of headway made on this front in the last 15 or so years but the Twin Towers were built in 1973, long before much of this was even thought about, never mind studied and known. The damage of the plane hitting the building combined with even minor softening of the steel due to a major fire was pretty likely to cause a catastrophic failure. It did. The rest played out predictably based on the fact that the shock of the plane’s impact was over and gravity pretty much only works in one direction on this planet.

      • It’s been well demonstrated that flying geese and ducks going into the jet intake are very, very effective.

  2. NY State has nothing to do with issuing permits. They are issued by counties. That is why upstate NY is much more lenient when issuing.
    NYC is the big problem. Here on LI its either a sheriff or in my county the “appointed” Police Commissioner that decides the fate of your CCL.
    I can only carry to and from a range. The way some people get around that is to belong to a 24hr range and have their range bag in the trunk. (permitted pistols are listed on the back of the license)

    • Yeah it’s pretty easy to get a pistol permit in upstate NY to own a handgun. In some counties it’s even easy to get a concealed permit I’ve been told. Easy as in shall issue as long as there’s no background check red flags. Other counties it’s more of a may issue or not issue. I don’t live in NY any longer! Thankfully.

      Tioga county I was told issues concealed regularly.

      • Once you get north of Rockland County, there’s a decent chance of being able to obtain a carry permit.

  3. WTH was he thinking? WTH were the authorities thinking with only a $200 fine?
    Irresponsible people like these will be the reason the TSA will find even more invasive (but probably ineffective) search techniques.
    Thank people like him next time you are patted down.

    • I don’t mind getting patted down as long as the fat TSA chick who’s doing the patting buys me a couple of drinks first.

    • people have hijacked planes with food service knives. you focus on things nstead of intent is nuts

  4. All of this demonstrates the absolute stupidity and futility of our “gun laws”!!!! This pilot was (probably) a military vet; BG’ed, examined, and tested every day of his life; and routinely entrusted with hundreds of lives and millions of $$ of property; and yet he and his pipsqueak mouse gun are deemed a threat? For shame !!! Chazzer

  5. “A provision of the federal law known as the Firearms Owners’ Protection Act, or FOPA, protects those who are transporting firearms for lawful purposes from local restrictions which would otherwise prohibit passage.”

    “In the event of an unexpected or extended delay, travelers should make every effort not to handle any luggage containing firearms unnecessarily and to secure it in a location where they do not have ready access to it.”

    “Travelers should be aware that some state and local governments treat this federal provision as an “affirmative defense” that may only be raised after an arrest.”

  6. Perhaps he was worried the flight would be overbooked and he would have to fight for a seat?

  7. Here’s my idea for a t-shirt:

    “I ❤ NY. Why won’t it ❤ me back? #nationalreciprocity”

  8. As a followup I saw the evil little 380 on the news. Appeared to be a S&W Bodyguard with a laser. Wow…we’re all safe now:)

  9. I believe once you are on airport property and the TSA is handling the security offenses will fall under federal law and not state law. Additionally, airline pilots go through a back round check that would make your firearm back round check look like a comical joke.

    • Don’t know the standards for firearms background checks but there is at least one instance of former military personnel who could no longer qualify for Secret clearance flying for airlines. Doesn’t sound too strict.

    • Yeah……well, when TSA flunks some 96% of tests carried out by special Department of Homeland Security investigators sneaking weapons imto airports, consider me unimpressed by their alleged proficiency.

      When literally scores if secured area airport employees were found to be on the Terrorist Watch List, despite oh so thorough background investigating by TSA, consider me unconvinced the TSA is even moderately competent.

      Now, perhaps the watch list is B.S., I don’t know. What I do know is that inclusion on the watch list was the basis the government tried to use in its attempt to deny people their 2A rights. If you’re too dangerous to have a gun, because you’re om some secret, bogus list, then you’re certainly too dangerous to have daily, secure area access to airports. Yet, TSA’s procedures failed to detect these people. Curious, that.

    • “I believe once you are on airport property and the TSA is handling the security offenses will fall under federal law and not state law.”
      Are you sure? I believe that the TSA is only in charge in the “secure” areas, the rest of the airport is under local control.
      Here in Phoenix, it’s the Phoenix police who handle the areas outside of the secure areas, including the baggage areas.

  10. I’m a recreational shooter and a pilot, and I think that discharging firearms on an aircraft are a bad idea. In an aircraft cruising at altitude (above 5K feet) decompression is going to be a factor, and we don’t want that. There is also the possibility that a stray round could hit something critical like an engine or a bunch of wiring, and cause loss of power or control, and both of those are bad things.

    So we have “Sky Marshals” (or some shit) armed with handguns on commercial carriers now. What ‘cha gonna do big boy? Take down the aircraft? Ooooh! I feel ever so much safer! /sarcasm

    Tasers, chemicals (yeah, I know that it would inconvenience the passengers), bludgeons and/or knives. Take ’em out without damaging the aircraft, please.


    • Pressurized aircraft aren’t going to blow up or explosively decompress with a bullet hole through the skin. 5K feet? Really? The aircraft isn’t even pressurized at 5,000 feet. Those airplanes aren’t air-tight, anyway. The pressurization system wouldn’t even get behind with a few bullet holes in the skin. And do you think they’d have a shooting range or a free-for-all up there, or something? Celebratory gunfire? I carry just about every day and I don’t have bullet holes in my car. Just because people carry doesn’t mean they’re going to shoot. Liberals believe that garbage. It just isn’t true. Your fears are unfounded…

  11. FFDOs are not allowed to use personal weapons. They are restricted to the weapon they are issued. There are too many restrictions for it to be practical.

  12. Federal “No Gun Zones” must complete removed !

    Looks at germany >> Andreas Lubitz. white powerfull handguns carried on passenger there was an chance to enter the lockt cockpit and shoot the bastard too heel and the lock out co pilot can land the machine !

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