TSA Lets Loaded Guns Past Security Onto Planes
In one of the incidents last week, Transportation Security Administration screeners allowed a New Orleans Hornets executive to board a plane from New Orleans to Newark, N.J., with a loaded handgun in his baggage.
Hornets Vice President Joshua Richardson reportedly took the bag with the gun on his trip by accident, saying it belonged to his wife. The loaded gun went undetected on the first leg of his trip. While there are conflicting reports on whether Richardson carried the loaded gun in a carry on or checked bag, the TSA has confirmed to ABC News that even checked firearms must be unloaded.
However, the agency said it would be less of a security threat if the gun was in a checked bag.
New York Port Authority police told The New York Post that TSA officials learned of the mistake on Friday night, when Richardson attempted to board a flight home from Newark back to New Orleans with the .38-caliber gun still packed away in his luggage.
Just one day earlier in Orlando, TSA officers missed another loaded gun. This time, a firefighter had mistakenly left the gun in her purse and carried it right through security screening and on to her plane. The firefighter realized on her own what had happened and alerted authorities.
Rep. John Mica, the Florida Republican who chairs the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, told WFTV he believes the mishaps at TSA that are coming to light now are just an indication of the true scope of the security threat. "Unfortunately the reports I get, it's not just this one weapon. It's hundreds of items every day," Mica said. "It can't be tolerated."
In Dallas, the TSA couldn't keep up with a 65-year old grandmother who also had a gun get by screeners in January. "It makes me feel concerned about what's really going on," passenger Michael McCullough said at the time.
In a statement to ABC News, the TSA stressed its many successes. "TSA screens nearly 2 million people every day, including their carry-on and checked luggage. An average four firearms are intercepted every day at airport checkpoints. This year alone, travelers have attempted to carry nearly 1,100 weapons through security and into the sterile area, attempts thwarted by TSA Officers," an agency spokesman said. The agency stressed it takes incidents like these seriously and is conducting a full review of each.
ABC has also confirmed the officer who allowed the Orlando firefighter to pass through security with a loaded gun, has been removed from screening duties pending an ongoing review and possible further disciplinary action.
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