More and more Americans are apparently attempting to take airline security into their own hands. In data provided by the Transport Security Administration to the AP, there is evidence of a significant increase in the number of firearms that passengers try to take through TSA screening points in airports around the country.
In only the first half of this year, the TSA seized 894 guns from passengers – 30 percent more than the year before. From 2011 to 2012, the number of firearms seized increased by 17 percent.
Many of these weapons were seized from people who claim they simply forgot they were carrying a gun onto a plane. Airports in the south and west of the United States had the largest reported number of gun seizures.
Some of the stories of the seizures in the AP report are genuine head-shakers. To wit:
Raymond Whitehead, 53, of Santa Fe, N.M., was arrested at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey in May after screeners spotted 10 hollow-point bullets in his carry-on bag. Whitehead, who is completely blind, also had a .38 caliber Charter Arms revolver in his checked bag that he had failed to declare.
The TSA found the weapons on the passengers’ person, in their carry-on luggage and even in a boot that one man was wearing on his prosthetic leg. Depending on the gun laws of the jurisdiction where the airports are located, some of the gun-toting passengers were arrested and others were not.
If you think 894 guns in six months is a lot, consider that these numbers don’t include BB guns, spear guns, flare guns, stun guns and other ballistic weapons.
Last month the TSA recently reversed their decision to allow small knives onto planes. They have not made any statements reiterating the ban on firearms.
In case you’re unfamiliar with gadabout/YouTube sensation/random dancer Where the Hell is Matt?, I suggest you click here. Or, you can take the easy way out and read this synopsis: Matt Harding is that guy who made a bunch of videos of himself doing a goofy dance in front of various global landmarks, and achieved that peculiar level of fame unique to those who have gone viral.
In the video below, Matt is shown getting bombarded with 10,000 volts of electricity by a Tesla cannon. I had no idea what that is, because my editor just assigned me this post. I’m glad, because I was watching a really bad Greek film on Netflix.
Anyway, a Tesla cannon, according to Fallout Wiki, is a “shoulder-mounted directed energy weapon using technology pioneered by Nikola Tesla.” I also needed to look up who Nikola Tesla was, so don’t feel bad (maybe I should feel bad)?
Matt, we appreciate your taking one for the team in the name of travel. Next, we’d like to see you dance in front of a herd of stampeding Cape buffalo in Uganda.
After years of murders, kidnappings, and heists, the lawless sea near the horn of Africa seems to be getting worse. A Dubai firm is capitalizing on these pirate infested waters with a strange new form of pirate tourism. The tour company, Dubai based Seahunters LLC, sells both 7 and 14 day cruises embarking from Salalah, Oman and Abu Dhabi, UAE. Unlike the quintessential cruise, the cruisers do not board in hopes of devouring mid-morning nacho buffets or snorkeling with dolphins. These cruisers board in hopes of embarking on a hunting trip with the most taboo of target – humans.
Like any proper cruise, you can choose a type of stateroom with offers ranging from the humble sounding “standard inside” to the opulent “Hemingway suite.” The similarities to any other cruise end abruptly when you begin assembling your personal armory. With offerings such as the predictably yielding “bazooka package” and a “mercenary madness” kit, you can personalize your weapons cache almost endlessly. The “mercenary madness” package includes rental of a M107 .50 caliber sniper rifle, an AR 15 assault rifle, and an 18kt gold plated Desert Eagle pistol. Bow and arrows are also available for purists. Flamethrowers can be rented as well, though require a 3 day licensing course prior to departure.Ports of call include the otherworldly Socotra island known for its Dragon’s Blood trees, and Mogadishu – the most dangerous city on the planet.
With only 17 rooms, the pearl white yacht is sized to attract attention from opportunistic pirates while spending days drifting aimlessly through the Gulf of Aden. Seahunters does not guarantee that pirates will attempt to board the boat, but in the event that they do, the cruisers are free to defend themselves with their weapons. What this defense entails has been the target of several human rights organizations. Decrying this bizarre form of freelance privateering, many groups feel that baiting the pirates into the line of fire is an extreme example of human insensitivity and a case of morbid exploitation. Seahunters maintains that their program will provide substantial positive externalities such as safer waters due to a fearful pirate population.
A typical seven night cruise itinerary
Day 1 – Flight to Salalah Airport from Dubai, welcome dinner and concert
Day 2 – Boat departs
Day 3 – At sea
Day 4 – Mogadishu tank tour
Day 5 – At sea
Day 6 – The “Splendor of Socotra” tour on Socotra Island
Day 7 – At sea
Day 8 – Return to Salalah
Well, isn’t this good to know – all it takes to become an international gun smuggler is a charming smile and a good excuse.
At least, that is the feeling you get when you read about alleged arms dealer Mr. Steven Greenoe. Mr. Greenoe regularly visited gun shows in North Carolina, loaded disassembled semiautomatic weapons in his luggage and flew them to the United Kingdom, where they sold with a handsome profit.
According to U.K. police, the guns were sold to criminal gangs, and one was reportedly used in a recent drive-by shooting. His 9mm Glocks were purchased at gun shows, and sold for as much as $8000, and as many as 60 guns may have been smuggled on commercial flights, with the help of the TSA.
The whole thing is pretty scary – but it gets worse – When Mr. Greenoe was stopped by TSA agents at Raleigh-Durham airport, he simply told them that he was a legitimate arms dealer, and that the guns were “engineering samples”. That is all it takes to get past the people put in charge of our airport security, because he was allowed to board an Atlanta bound plane, and then on to the U.K.
The only upside is that the arms were never carried in his carry-on luggage, but it still makes a mockery of the U.S. security, as U.K. officials now need to ask their U.S. counterparts just how stupid they actually are.
In what can only be described as a monumental screwup, a pilot for jetBlue managed to lose sight of his federally issued gun, and spent the next 40 minutes trying to locate it.
The pilot in question, Michael Connery Jr. was boarding his plane when he set his backpack down to chat with a fellow crew member. In the boarding process, a passenger on a different flight picked up her own bags, and accidentally grabbed Connery’s backpack as well.
Packed inside that backpack was a 40 caliber handgun – issued as part of the Federal Flight Deck Officer program, operated by the TSA.
Once the passenger realized the bag was not hers, she set it down on an empty seat on her plane. Another passenger pointed the unaccompanied backpack out to a crew member, who alerted the authorities. Meanwhile, Connery had already delayed his own flight while he tried to locate the backpack – taking 40 minutes to contact the airline to the incident.
Once he got his bag back, TSA officials confiscated his gun while they conducted their investigation.
While the armed flight officer program may be a good idea on paper, simple mistakes like this show how easy it is to completely defeat all security measures at the airport. Had the plane with the backpack departed on time, a gun could have been on its way to Florida in the hands of a random stranger.