TSA Still Hasn’t Caught a Terrorist

The TSA is boasting about weapons found in carryons, but the agency exists to protect us from a real terrorist attack.

The USA Today released what is essentially a Transportation Security Administration public relations memo: “TSA finds record number of firearms in carry-on bags.”

A record 2,212 firearms — most of them loaded — were discovered in travelers’ carry-on bags at U.S. airports last year, according to 2014 statistics released today by the Department of Homeland Security.

Transportation Security Administration officers found an average of six firearms per day in passengers’ carry-on bags or on their bodies. More than 80% of the guns were loaded. The total number of firearms discovered at airport security checkpoints rose 22% from 2013, the DHS statistics show.

The No. 1 excuse given by passengers going through airport checkpoints with guns was that they forget they had the firearms with them.

When TSA officers find the guns, they call in police officers working at the airport. Police interview the passengers to see whether their guns are licensed and determine whether or not they should be arrested. The gun-toting passengers face thousands of dollars in federal fines.

Notice that the TSA says nothing about a terrorist attempting to bring these weapons on the plane. The entire point of the TSA and the new budget that goes to the TSA was to protect us from terrorists. Can we please walk this back now? Furthermore, long before there was a TSA, airports were screening carryon luggage and confiscating firearms and other weapons. This kind of work has been going on for decades before the TSA existed.

tsa-checkpoint

[See also, “Arguing Over Pen Knives Rather than a $3 Trillion Budget and Reckless Spending.”]

Another problem with this claim about intercepted firearms is that we have no idea if the rise in found firearms is about people with weapons or the TSA getting their act together. Are more people carrying weapons so that more people forget that they have them in their carryon luggage? Or, has the TSA realized that they have been leaving us vulnerable for years due to sub-optimal practices and are now improving. It would be great news that they are getting better except they don’t want to admit that they have been doing a substandard job in the past!

Until we get some real investigative reporting, we can’t even begin to figure out what is really going on.

One final note: the video above refers to the claim by people with firearms in their carryons that they simply forgot the weapons were in the bag as an “excuse.” This implies it is a made-up story. But the TSA would love nothing more than to be able to publicize that they saved a plane from a real terrorist or other kind of hijacker. Furthermore, given the automatic penalties that hit someone who makes such a mistake, there is no reason to think anyone would subject themselves to the loss of a firearm and the financial penalties as some kind of intentional joke. So while the story is embarrassing for the people who were so careless about their firearms, there is no reason to assume they are making an excuse.

Finally, were any of these items found by nudie scanners or groping a passenger’s private areas? Enquiring minds want to know.