TSA fails to detect gun at Montana airport – may be replaced by private firm

Stories of poor TSA security screenings are not new – several days ago we wrote about a man who passed through a Milwaukee checkpoint with shotgun shells. In this “TSA screw-up of the day”, we head to Gallatin Field, serving Bozeman, Montana.

This may be a fairly small airport, but that should not be an excuse for the TSA to miss a firearm in a carry-on bag. The gun belonged to an “unidentified man”, who was honest enough to notify the cabin crew when he noticed his error. As is normally the case, the plane returned to the gate, and was delayed for over an hour while the TSA did their job (again).

Now, I understand how our constant “TSA bashing” be be getting a little boring, but this story suddenly gets really interesting. Airport director Brian Sprenger is so fed up with the government screeners, that he is seriously considering replacing them with an outside security firm.

Of course, a local union leader is “strongly opposed”, claiming for-profit security firms are a bad idea, because they’ll need to make a profit, while working with the same budget offered to the TSA. But to be honest, I don’t see how a private firm could be any worse than the government workers in place right now.

Failing to detect a gun is the kind of mistake that could cost the lives of everyone on the plane. Too much emphasis is placed on items like water bottles and false no-fly list passengers, that you sometimes get the feeling they forget to keep a close eye on the most obvious issues.

There are no immediate plans to replace the TSA at Bozeman just yet – but the airport is in the exploratory phase, which on its own should set off some alarm bells within government.

Check out these other stories from the airport checkpoint!

Tragedy changes downtown Bozeman, Montana: A tourism blow

Each year we’ve gone through the outskirts of Bozeman, Montana on our way to Butte from Billings. Each year, before we head for Montana, we say we’ll go to Bozeman, at least for a day. It’s been touted as being a western town success story. Boutique type stores, galleries, and eateries are housed in wonderfully restored buildings that capture the flavor of when the west boomed as the railroad was built and mining thrived.

Some friends of ours who live in Montana have told us that Bozeman has lost some of its wild charm as it has swung more upscale over the years. Unfortunately, last week, Bozeman was delivered a blow that will be a hard one to get over. Due to a massive explosion due to a gas leak, five of the historic buildings downtown on Main Street were destroyed and several damaged. The woman who managed the gallery in the building where the leak happened was killed.

Because of the economic downturn that has also affected downtown Bozeman, there’s a fear that the downtown might have difficult time recovering. The New York Times article, where I read about this news, also covers the other ways economic difficulties have influenced Bozeman’s recent development projects.

With this explosion has come the anxiety about leaks in old gas lines, probably something all older towns ought to think about. Now that I’ve found out about Bozeman’s recent hardship, I have more of an urge to swing through town this summer to buy something. It’s the least we can do.

If you browse through the photos of crd who took this picture of Main Street in Bozeman, you can see more results of the explosion.