Industry Focus

Stick ‘Em Up, Partner

The TSA is implementing some pretty amazing technology in order to improve explosives detection. In late August, the agency unveiled a state-of-theart advanced technology computed tomography (CT) checkpoint scanner for screening passengers and their baggage.

“TSA here at Houston Hobby is honored to be among the first airports in the country to test this checkpoint technology,” said Hector Vela, TSA Houston federal security manager. “CT significantly improves our threat detection capabilities, and passengers in the lane where we are testing CT have the added benefit of being able to leave their laptops and larger electronic items in their bags as well.”

This sounds like a step in the right direction, but passengers cannot leave their handguns in carry-on baggage. It is still illegal to carry a gun. Maybe that is why the TSA implemented the technology in Texas in the first place.

Not so fast. In that liberal bastion of the Northeast, TSA confiscated numerous handguns. I thought it worth mentioning because handguns are strictly forbidden on an airplane. August was a busy month for TSA agents searching for weapons.

An Ohio man was stopped by TSA officers at Pittsburgh International Airport Aug. 17 when they detected a loaded handgun in the man’s carry-on bag. The man had a 9mm handgun, with six bullets loaded. This was only one of 21 guns stopped at the checkpoint so far this year. In 2017, TSA officers at the airport caught 32 firearms at the checkpoint. A typical first offense for carrying a handgun into a checkpoint is $3,900.

Officers at Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) stopped a man with a handgun at one of the airport’s checkpoints Aug. 19, marking the 19th gun caught at the airport so far this year. Last year TSA officers detected 26 firearms at the airport’s checkpoints. The man was carrying his .38 caliber and a magazine with five bullets in his carry-on bag.

A TSA officer stopped a man from bringing a loaded handgun onto an airplane at Washington Dulles International Airport on Aug. 22. The TSA officer spotted the gun in the man’s carry-on bag at one of the airport checkpoints when it appeared on the X-ray monitor. The .40 caliber handgun was loaded with 10 bullets. Typically, more than 80 percent of handguns caught at checkpoints nationwide are loaded.

For my fellow travelers, who crisscross the country every day, firearms are still forbidden. It might be a good practice to check your baggage before you leave the house and head off to the airport. You are not likely to hear the TSA agent say, “Stick ‘em up,” but you will be detained for a while.

This article originally appeared in the October 2018 issue of Security Today.

About the Author

Ralph C. Jensen is editor-in-chief of Security Today magazine.

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