This past weekend I had the, ahem, joy, to fly with firearms, and I was struck again by how stupid airport security really is. Of all the people you would think you would want to be onboard your flight, you’d think you would want someone who was competent in using a firearm – and who had one with him. But no, all firearms have to be in hard-sided lockable (and locked) cases – and must be checked.
Flying from RDU to EWR was straightforward, but the return flight was a bit more hectic. When checking my firearms in NC, the check-in lady verified I had a key for the case, then had me stuff the firearms declaration form into my case, and then happily put the case onto the conveyor belt to be checked. A simple process that only took an additional 30 seconds over the normal process of checking bags since a special form needs to be signed.
Checking in at Newark, however, was more of an ordeal than it should be. First, I told them I was flying with firearms, then they escorted me to an employees-only security area to open the case, and demonstrate to the agent that they were unloaded, then put the form inside, then seal the whole works back up. Ahh, I thought, that wasn’t too bad. Alas, that wasn’t all. Next I was escorted over to the Xray machines, and had to surrender my key to the Xray guy so he could open the case – again – and verify everything was fine, then he sealed it back up and returned my key to me.
Grrr. Ok, I understand opening the case once to demonstrate there are no bombs in it, but a second examination, and especially without my presence, did not make me feel very good about the state of affairs with ‘security’ at EWR. I was unable to verify that nothing was stolen until I got to RDU later that morning. It really would have been a simple thing for the Xray tech to take a magazine, or even one of the guns I had in the case, and I wouldn’t have known until it was far and away too late.
This really helps to exemplify the sorry state of so-called security in the US, and especially at airports. By definition, once I have passed through airport security into a ‘secure zone’, I am now no longer a security threat. But I also wasn’t a threat ahead of time, or they wouldn’t let me through (I hope at least). No, the real threat isn’t from somebody flying who wants to check their firearms. Or folks who just want to lock their bags to keep them safe. The real threat is from some jackass sitting a half-mile from the runway with a smuggled, shoulder-mount missile shooting at a plane in the pattern.
I could understand not allowing people to carry firearms in their carry-on bags if they didn’t also have a certification indicating they knew how to use them – such as a concealed carry permit. However, anyone who can demonstrate (via a government-issued certificate for example) that he/she is competent to not only own but also use a small weapon, should be allowed bring such a device with them onto the plane.
I would certainly feel more comfortable knowing that at least some of the flights I’m on would have people who knew how to handle a handgun onboard. I’d feel more comfortable knowing I was one of those people.
But most of all, I’d feel more comfortable if airport security reverted to its pre-9/11 status. The islamic wackos who hijacked planes and flew them into the World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon, and the final one that was re-hijacked and crashed into a field didn’t have to sneak any contraband through airport security. Everything they brought onboard was legit. Their crime was lying about their identities to obtain US documentation that indicated they should be here.
Outlawing pocket knives, nail clippers, knitting needles, baseball bats, and the like doesn’t improve security. Security is improved when everyone takes on personal responsibility and doesn’t let bad stuff happen. If even one person onboard any of the hijacked planes on September 11th had been carrying a weapon, or if anyone on the first three planes had grown some balls and stood up to those jackasses who hijacked the plane, we might not be now remembering 9/11 as the biggest act of terrorism in US history: we would be remembering the acts of a couple people who decided to act rather than sit idly by while their jet was flown into a skyscraper.