Ever-tightening security measures in place at TSA airport checkpoints across the United States frequent the headlines these days with stories of strip searches and other intrusive practices abusing privacy rights. At this stage, one would think that with such a high profile on impenetrable security screening the general population would refrain from traveling with anything remotely suspected as a weapon, let alone a loaded firearm. More disturbing than a conveniently forgetful passenger might be, is the more than 1,100 firearms discovered at checkpoints this year.
Do these cases represent individuals intentionally trying to work the system and slip items by? Despite public outcry about the severity of screening in airports, there are still numerous opportunities for dangerous items to pass undetected and there are certainly those that are willing to risk carrying a firearm onboard. But if there are so many firearms being stopped at checkpoints, surely there must be a significant amount that actually make it through. And if weapons are being successfully carried onboard intentionally – or by accident – without incident, what is the reason for these individuals to put themselves in legal jeopardy?
Professionals and hobbyists versed in the skills and responsibility of guns and tactics might find it difficult to seriously consider that a person might “forget” that they are carrying a loaded firearm. We might even assume that with the market of back-up weapons available one might forget that a compact pistol was tossed in a bag, which then begs to ask how the firearm was discharged while in the hands of a law enforcement professional. Ultimately, one of the key lessons to appreciate here centers on one of the primary rules of handling a firearm or any other dangerous weapon: Never, EVER point a firearm at something that you are not willing to destroy. Despite the lapse of memory – or judgement – of a gun owner creating a potentially deadly incident in a crowded public location, it was the training of a professional that resulted in an embarrassment instead of a tragedy.
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