Some people have said (on HN as well as other places) that the TSA have never stopped weapons getting on board a plane and if they had they would have heavily publicised it. In fact, they stop about 20 to 30 guns each week from getting on board a plane. Those guns and knives are posted to their blog.
Perhaps posting images on Instagram will let more people know that the TSA manage to stop some weapons (although I don't care about the guns they stop, I care about the gun they don't stop and which is then used to harm someone) and to help remind people to put guns into checked baggage instead?
Note that I'm not defending particularly defending TSA here.
I believe the standard claim is that they have never discovered and apprehended a terrorist, preventing an attack. Everybody knows they steal shit from people who, although perhaps stupid, are not terrorists.
We can argue about what qualifies as 'standard' - although I don't think any of us have access to much in the way of quantification regarding arguments for and against the TSA. Proof to the contrary would be a pleasant surprise.
I hope it suffices to say that most people who are concerned about the TSA are concerned about rates of detection and perceived effectiveness of techniques versus cost. Even if not everyone would be so wordy.
Google search for "tsa never caught a terrorist":
http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/explainer/20... (Slate pointing out that the TSA doesn't catch terrorists, making special note of the fact that they have not bragged about doing so.)
http://disinfo.com/2012/03/has-the-tsa-ever-foiled-a-terrori... (blogspam about an economist article written by Bruce Schneier about the TSA never catching terrorists. Bruce Schneier is likely the most prominent person that points out that the TSA never brags about bagging one. I would wager that he popularized the point.)
http://tsanewsblog.com/3160/news/tsa-executive-admits-not-a-... (TSA official asked directly if they have ever caught a terrorist.)
Google search for "tsa never found a gun":
The popular question is "if the TSA has caught a terrorist, why haven't we heard".
"If the TSA has never found a gun, why haven't we heard?" is foolish and as far as I can tell almost never asked.
I have to wonder how many of the firearms they stop are just regular law-abiding concealed handgun license bearers who, in their rush to get to the airport, forgot that they keep a loaded firearm in their purse, briefcase, or backpack. Since the penalty is a $7,500 fine and not 20 years in jail, I have to presume this scenario is far more common "malicious guy planned to hijack plane."
This would be a very easy statistic to publish, too (only 10% of the people we stopped were even licensed to carry a handgun!), but since I haven't seen that statistic advertised, I would presume they find most of the stopped citizens to be guilty only of carelessness.
A pocketknife from a fishing trip? Understandable. Being forgetful about having a gun in your bag? While going through airport security to get on an airplane? Not so much.
I carry on my hip at between 4-5 o'clock, and it is not a small or light gun (4" aluminum frame M1911 + spare magazine on other side), so I don't exactly forget that I'm carrying it, but on the other hand the fact that I'm carrying doesn't register strongly---mostly, it's about keeping my pants on ^_^. I notice that the TSA's Instagram page shows small guns (smaller than mine) with one possible exception, and states all but the derringers were found in carry on bags.
Carrying is something you get accustomed to, and a lot of people get complacent. Massad Ayoob in his safety video talks about it becoming like "Fluffy", your pet dog or whatever.
With 43 states as of today (Illinois) having de jure or de facto shall issue regimes (plus much upstate New York, rural California and Massachusetts (!), and Rhode Island is confused), well more than 2/3rds of the population can legally carry concealed. As of last summer Clayton Cramer and the GAO independently estimated 7.5 and 8 million people have concealed carry licenses. That number is skyrocketing based on all reports, Vermont, Alaska, Arizona, Wyoming and as of this month Arkansas don't even require a license, and Illinois will be adding upwards of 10 million citizens eligible.
Yow, now 8 out of the top 10 states by population, all but California (1) and New York (3), all but 5 out of the top 20.
So, yeah, that many people, I can believe that much forgetfulness. Also, a lot of people forget spare magazines (with or without ammo), which are also in the same category.
Ownership of a firearm requires a certain level of responsibility. A concealed carry permit increases that quotient of responsibility substantially. In my mind, forgetting where you put your gun is basically inexcusable. There may well be the odd, vanishingly unlikely circumstance where one could plausibly excuse unintentionally carrying a firearm through airport security, but I can't think of it.
My bet is that most of these idiots knew they had their guns with them but thought they'd try it on anyway, reasoning that if they went home to drop it off, they'd miss their flight.
If we assume that those people don't have any malintent, then they're just careless. And if they are that careless, they should get their firearms confiscated from them and they should be fined.
I'm sure this accounts for the majority of weapon seizures, but this doesn't make them invalid. I would not be comfortable with improperly stored loaded weapons bouncing around an overhead storage bin.
You could argue the chance of an accidental discharge is low, but it's certainly meaningful enough to warrant caution. All the more so given the consequences of accidental discharge inside an airplane cabin.
So I'd say "very low", while agreeing that it's not zero.
BTW, it's almost never an accidental discharge, almost always a negligent one, and in this hypothetical case most certainly so.
As I understand it TSA only do the finding of the guns and it's local law enforcement who does the rest. So TSA have no idea about who's allowed to carry the weapon or not.
I agree that these are just careless or forgetful people (or perhaps people making a point about their right to etc etc) and not terrorists.
> This would be a very easy statistic to publish, too (only 10% of the people we stopped were even licensed to carry a handgun!), but since I haven't seen that statistic advertised, I would presume they find most of the stopped citizens to be guilty only of carelessness.
I really hope that careless people are not being fined, or if they are it's only small. I also really hope that someone, somewhere, with a solid stats background, is collecting and studying the numbers and giving advice to law makers. Because spending all that time and money on something that's pointless would be very very frustrating. I want to know what the future-people will say about it. What will the 2063 tenth-graders write about it?
I have no idea if this is true, but let's assume it is.
So what? How does that prevent TSA's Office of Public Relations from following up with law enforcement after the fact? Is there some law of which I'm unaware that prevents the TSA from asking the local PD for statistics about this sort of thing?
Co-ordinating with a variety of different law enforcement departments, in different states, with different laws, makes is a bit less easy.
> I have no idea if this is true, but let's assume it is.
It's something that TSA claim. I posted the URL and a quote earlier in the thread. Here it is again. (http://blog.tsa.gov/2013/07/tsa-week-in-review-30-firearms.h...)
> Just because we find a prohibited item on an individual does not mean they had bad intentions, that's for the law enforcement officer to decide. In many cases, people simply forgot they had these items.
As much as I would love to see the TSA disappear tomorrow, some might argue that carelessness should be punished more often than it actually is...
There are so many laws on the books these days I'm sure even my Grandma could be locked up for a couple decades.
Yeah, there's a thousand laws on the books that everyone breaks and there's no real repercussions even in the worst case scenario. Bringing a loaded weapon into a weapon-free zone is not one of them. I say this as a holder of a concealed carry permit. You might as well be yelling "fire" in a theater if you drop your purse and that gun falls out.
I've forgotten to bring my wallet/keys with me when I leave my place, I've forgotten to wear my glasses before driving somewhere, I've forgotten to turn on my headlights while driving (in a well lit city, to my credit). People accidentally carry pocket knives through metal detectors.
None of these thing are something that happens to most people often, it could happen just once after years of correct routine. Theses absent-minded mishaps are just human nature. They are of course going to occasionally happen with guns too. I'm sure there are more than a few cops out there who accidentally walked through metal detectors while wearing their service pistol.
My point is, guns are a bit more dangerous than knives, and the responsibility of the holder should reflect that.
That would only be a meaningful statement in some states.
Among U.S. states, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Vermont
and Wyoming allow residents to carry a concealed firearm
without a permit. These states also allow the open carry
of a handgun without a permit.
Even if they were concealed carrying it without a license, the statistic would be "10% of those caught not in Vermont did not have a license to carry the gun in the manner that they were carrying it".
Note that none of these confiscated weapons by themselves necessarily constitute an intent to use them. Knives especially are commonly carried and can easily be forgotten about.
TSA themselves have been saying that, once a week, every week, for some time now.
> Unfortunately these sorts of occurrences are all too frequent which is why we talk about these finds. Sure, it’s great to share the things that our officers are finding, but at the same time, each time we find a dangerous item, the throughput is slowed down and a passenger that likely had no ill intent ends up with a citation or in some cases is even arrested. The passenger can face a penalty as high as $7,500.00. This is a friendly reminder to please leave these items at home. Just because we find a prohibited item on an individual does not mean they had bad intentions, that's for the law enforcement officer to decide. In many cases, people simply forgot they had these items.
Exactly. If these were instances of the TSA actually protecting us then "passengers who try to go through security with a firearm usually get a citation and can face a fine" would not be the case.
Not unless our plan is fining and citing terrorists out of existence.
"Hey, check out this gun! It has pink glitter! Aren't you glad we confiscated it!?"
It feels immature. Law enforcement is supposed to be serious. This kind of thing should only really be a number in a report, not a picture with a comment trying to be funny. It should be objective, neither heavy-handed or lackadaisical.
From the TSA Blog (I cannot confirm if true)
When prohibited items come through the checkpoint, passengers are given options:
1) Take the item to the ticket counter and check it in your baggage or a box provided by the airport.
2) Many airports have a US Postal Service or other shipping services area where boxes, stamps and envelopes can be bought so you can ship your items home.
3) If there is somebody seeing you off, you can hand the prohibited item to them.
4) If your car is parked outside, you can take the item to your car.
1) There are guidelines for how the firearm must be shipped; simply sliding it into your checked baggage will not work.
2) Handguns are generally prohibited from being mailed via the USPS.
3) The person seeing you off may not be properly licensed to transport the handgun.
4) Storing a valuable object in a vehicle which is in long-term parking sounds like a bad idea. Municipalities which have strict theft-reporting requirements do not have exceptions for "I was out of town and didn't know that my car had been burgled."
but 3 & 4 I think would practically be the best route, despite some risks.
All kidding aside, I wonder what mega IT company won the bid to run the Instagram account.
...or is that considered "art" lately?
Lifehacker had an article on it --
And people wonder why I'm such a government-hating Libertarian. sigh
But I wonder if they are misleadingly posting these as if they were just discovered, rather than over what appears to be at least 23 years.
Here's the URL. (http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-SysR15uPqBM/Uc4NPpBKBMI/AAAAAAAADH...)
Maybe they took it off for the blog post, or maybe Instagram put it on because 1990 is, uh, retro?
It's part of the vintage look.