It is happening more and more. T.S.A. screeners at the airport, in addition to finding hidden bottles of shampoo, are finding guns that passengers "forgot." It is "a vivid indication of the normalization of casual gun-ownership," said the New York Times this week. "Airports in states with lax gun laws tend to have the highest incidence of firearms at checkpoints."
Last year, a Littlestown man on his way to Music City USA was found to have a loaded gun in his carry-on bag at the Baltimore--Washington International Airport. The wife of rock musician and NRA board member Ted ("Obama is a subhuman mongrel") Nugent was caught with a gun in her carry-on luggage at the Dallas airport. At the Bismarck airport, also last year, a Utah man was trying to disarm his gun so he could check it onto a plane when it went off. Oops. Both a pastor and a Chicago lawmaker have recently "forgotten" they were carrying lethal weapons which were found by airport screeners when they tried to board planes.
Rules around flying with guns are clear. Travelers may only transport unloaded firearms in a locked, hard-sided container or as checked baggage. All firearms, ammunition and firearm parts, including firearm frames and receivers, are prohibited in carry-on baggage. Which part of this do gun lovers fail to understand?
It is easy to see why gun carriers at the airport would be inclined to make the same mistake again. Nothing happens to them. Unlike a drunk driver who can lose his license and face jail time, gun owners are not licensed to begin with so there is no license to lose. Let's enforce existing laws!
Passengers caught with guns as they try to board airplanes are subject to state law and in most states their gun is returned and they are told to put it in their car before boarding. Ouch. While police may confiscate the weapon and make an arrest, they usually let the passenger with a lethal weapon he"forgot" proceed on his way. Gun carriers will, after all, be gun carriers.
Even if the carrier has no criminal intent, guns go off accidentally and can kill passengers and crew members. They can cause structural damage and, in certain cases, go through the plane's fuselage causing everyone to be ejected from the plane due to explosive decompression. Like the open and concealed carriers, we are all threatened when gun enthusiasts, fueled by the gun lobby's "guns everywhere" movement, pack weapons.
Why isn't bringing a gun into the security zone of an airport a felony? Because lawmakers ignore the 90 percent of the nation that does not want to live in an armed camp in favor of belligerent and threatening "gun advocates" who use extortion and mob-like tactics to get their way. As long as the law continues to smile on gun carriers who treat their lethal weapons like cell phones, these "forgetful incidents" will keep occurring.