This month, the TSA set a new record – discovering 104 firearms in carry-on luggage over the span of a single week.
Passengers cannot bring a gun or ammunition in carry-on luggage unless the passenger is law enforcement.
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But TSA regulations do permit passengers to bring guns and ammunition in checked baggage, as long as TSA is notified ahead of time and the gun is packed in a separate container and unloaded.
TSA’s rationale for allowing guns in checked bags? Passengers don’t have access to checked bags once onboard… so what could go wrong?
There may be some logic to this when in the air. But allowing immediate access to both guns and ammunition in crowded baggage claim areas presents a proven threat to airline passengers – especially as they congregate in a space almost ideal for carrying out mass shootings.
We already saw the vulnerability of busy airports in Fort Lauderdale, where, before police could respond, Esteban Santiago-Ruiz opened fire on passengers after deplaning, killing five people and injuring six within 70 seconds. We saw it in Brussels, where three coordinated suicide bombings wiped out 32 passengers and injured more than 300. And we saw it in Istanbul: 45 civilians killed and more than 230 injured by three gunmen who used automatic weapons and explosive belts to devastating effect.
To protect passengers, FlyersRights.org submitted a petition to ban ammunition in the hold. Under the petition, gun-owning passengers could still travel with their guns in checked baggage but would have to purchase ammunition for them after safely departing from crowded destination airports.
Unfortunately, the TSA has yet to respond to our petition.
Especially in light of recent events, the potential for mass shootings and the opportunity to take reasonable measures to prevent them loom large to Americans of all stripes.
This includes airline passengers in enclosed public spaces, where they are perhaps most vulnerable to these attacks.
We hope the TSA will better align its policies with the beliefs and fears of Americans and passengers, and take action to at least lower the chances that these tragedies repeat themselves.