Welcome to Common Gunsense

I hope this blog will provoke some thoughtful reflection about the issue of guns and gun violence. I am passionate about the issue and would love to change some misperceptions and the culture of gun violence in America by sharing with readers words, photos, videos and clips from articles to promote common sense about gun issues. Many of you will agree with me- some will not. I am only one person but one among many who think it's time to do something about this national problem. The views expressed by me in this blog do not represent any group with which I am associated but are rather my own personal opinions and thoughts.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Flying with guns

Isn't there a common understanding that guns are not allowed on airplanes? When traveling, don't passengers understand that certain items are prohibited to carry onto a plane? I, for one, put my liquids in a plastic bag and obediently take off my shoes and my jacket when going through TSA check points. I take my laptop or iPad out of my carry-on. I just assume that the other passengers are doing the same. Apparently I am wrong about my assumption. I wasn't planning to write about stupid "law abiding" gun permit holders today. But there is always something when dealing with the gun rights extremists and their insistence on more loaded guns carried by more people in more places. Since 9/11 and before, it is common knowledge that guns are not allowed on airplanes. It's common sense, right? Not to some folks. Check out this article about the increase in loaded guns found on passengers or in their carry-ons when checking in for travel by plane:
Last year TSA found 1,549 firearms on passengers attempting to go through screening, up 17% from the year before. (...) 
As one passenger took off his jacket to go through screening in Sacramento, Calif., last year, TSA officers noticed he was wearing a shoulder holster, and in it was a loaded 9 mm pistol. The same passenger was found to have three more loaded pistols, 192 rounds of ammunition, two magazines and three knives.
Screeners elsewhere found a .45-caliber pistol and magazine hidden inside a cassette deck. Another .45-caliber pistol loaded with seven rounds, including a round in the chamber, was hidden under the lining of a carry-on bag in Charlotte. A passenger in Allentown, Pa., was carrying a pistol designed to look like a writing pen. At first the passenger said it was just a pen, but later acknowledged it was a gun, according to TSA.
A passenger in March at Bradley Hartford International Airport in Connecticut had a loaded .38-caliber pistol containing eight rounds strapped to his lower left leg. At Salt Lake City International Airport, a gun was found inside a passenger's boot strapped to a prosthetic leg.
TSA doesn't believe these gun-toting passengers are terrorists, but the agency can't explain why so many passengers try to board planes with guns, either, Castelveter said. The most common excuse offered by passengers is "I forgot it was there."
"We don't analyze the behavioral traits of people who carry weapons. We're looking for terrorists," he said. "But sometimes you have to scratch your head and say, 'Why?'" (...) 
Jimmy Taylor, a sociology professor at Ohio University-Zanesville and the author of several books on the nation's gun culture, said some gun owners are so used to carrying concealed weapons that it's no different to them than carrying keys or a wallet.
The most common reason people say they carry guns is for protection, so it also makes sense that most of the guns intercepted by TSA are loaded, Taylor said. Many gun owners keep their weapons loaded so they're ready if needed, he said.
Even so, Taylor said he finds it hard to believe airline passengers forget they're carrying guns.
"My wife and I check on things like eye drops and Chapstick to see if we're allowed to take them on a plane, so it's a little difficult to imagine that you aren't checking the policies about your loaded firearm before you get to the airport," he said.
Occasionally passengers stopped by TSA are people who are used to carrying guns because they work in law enforcement, security or the military, but that doesn't appear to be the case most of the time.
Robert Spitzer, an expert on gun policy and gun rights, theorizes that for some, the "I forgot" answer is an excuse, "just like somebody who walks out of a store with an unpaid-for item in their pocket. The first thing that person will say is, 'I forgot.' Do people forget sometimes? Sure they do. But are there also people who try to shoplift to get away with something? Sure there are, and I think that's no less true with guns."
Eighty-five percent of the guns intercepted last year were loaded. The most common type of gun was a .38-caliber pistol. (...) 
By contrast, at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, where TSA screened nearly 27 million passengers last year, there was a single passenger found to have a gun.
"There are some Americans who believe that there are no limits, that they not only have a constitutional but a God-given right to have a gun and 'By gosh, if I want to bring a gun on a plane I'm going to do it,'" said Spitzer, a professor at the State University of New York-Cortland.
TSA's count of guns intercepted doesn't include all the other kinds of prohibited "guns" that TSA screeners find, like flare guns, BB guns, air guns, spear guns, pellet guns and starter pistols. Screeners find half a dozen to several dozen stun guns on passengers or in their carry-on bags each week. Last December, screeners stopped a passenger in Boston with seven stun guns in his bag. He said they were Christmas presents. The same week, screeners spotted 26 stun guns in the carry-on bag of a passenger at JFK. TSA has found several stun guns disguised as smartphones, and one that looked like a package of cigarettes.
Airports in the South and the West, where the American gun culture is strongest, had the greatest number of guns intercepted, according to TSA data.
Of the 12 airports with the most guns last year, five are in Texas: Dallas-Fort Worth International, 80 guns; George Bush Intercontinental in Houston, 52; Dallas Love Field, 37; William P. Hobby in Houston, 35, and Austin-Bergstrom International, 33. Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta had the most for any airport, at 96. Others include Phoenix Sky Harbor, 54; Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International in Florida, 42; Denver International, 39; Seattle-Tacoma International, 37; Orlando International Airport in Florida, 36, and Tampa International in Florida, 33.
And then, finally, this example of a gun permit holder who was caught with his loaded guns at a TSA screening point:
Most of those who are stopped with guns are reluctant to talk about it afterward. One who didn't mind was Raymond Whitehead, 53, of Santa Fe, N.M., who 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. He said in an interview with the AP that he was unaware of the specifics of the rules for checking guns, or that hollow-point bullets are illegal in New Jersey.
Whitehead acknowledged that it seems "counterintuitive" for a blind man to have a gun but said he keeps a loaded gun handy for protection from intruders. In such a situation, he said, he would call out a warning that he had a gun and spray bullets in the direction of the noise if the intruder didn't leave.
"I have five shots, and if I fan it out I'm going to hit you," said Whitehead, a National Rifle Association member who owns five guns.
Don't get me started about why a blind person should even have guns on his person. This is what our gun culture is bringing to us. As I have said many times before, with more loaded guns now carried by more people into more places, we are not going to be safer. Some of these folks don't think the rules apply to them. These are supposed "law abiding" gun owners.

Until they are not.

I know that the corporate gun lobby and its' minions believe that there should be no "gun free zones". They also think the American public should just be more comfortable with people carrying guns around in public. I mean, what could possibly go wrong? They believe they should be able to take their loaded guns with them wherever they find themselves. But if you check out the Ohh Shoot blog, you will see how this actually works out for some of them. We should all be aware that gun permit holders do not always follow the law. It's time to re-examine not only our gun laws but the culture of guns and gun ownership that leads to careless and provocative behavior. Guns are dangerous. They should not be at airports and on airplanes at the least. Fly safe everyone.


One of my Minnesota gun rights readers has responded that he has no problem with guns in the non-secure area of airports. I looked up this article in response and found that my state of Minnesota is only 1 of 7 in the country that actually allow passengers with guns in the unsecured areas.
An Associated Press survey of the 20 busiest U.S. airports found that seven of them - Philadelphia, Detroit, Phoenix, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles and San Francisco - let people with gun permits carry firearms in the general public areas of the terminal.
Some anti-terrorism experts say that is a glaring security loophole that could endanger airport workers, passengers and people waiting to pick them up or see them off. Some suggest that allowing guns in terminals is practically asking for them to be smuggled aboard a plane.
"If your airport is not secure, then the security of your airplanes is jeopardized," said Rafi Ron, former security chief at Ben Gurion Airport in Israel who now works as an aviation consultant. "You cannot separate the two."
Other authorities say the nonsecure areas of the terminal are no different from other public venues and do not warrant special restrictions.
"It's really not more of a concern than at a mall or a train station," said Philadelphia police Lt. Louis Liberati.
Under federal law, it is illegal everywhere to try to carry a gun through a security checkpoint. The rest of the terminal, however, has long been the domain of state and local authorities.
Jon Allen, a spokesman for the federal Transportation Security Administration, said the TSA has not taken a position on guns in airports and has no authority under federal law to ban them.
The issue has led to clash in Georgia between a new state law that allows guns on public transportation and the Atlanta airport's ban on loaded weapons. Last month, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit brought against the city by a gun rights group. At an earlier hearing, he warned that guns at the world's busiest airport could pose a "serious threat to public safety and welfare." The gun group has appealed.
Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, was surprised to learn that airports have been allowing weapons for years, and warned that Congress could move to ban the practice. In a July letter to TSA, Thompson called guns in terminals "a threat to the safety of airline travelers."
However, even at those airports that ban guns, officials are not frisking people or using metal detectors on them as they enter the terminal. Experts say an additional layer of security like that would be unworkable at America's bustling airports.
In 2002, an Egyptian immigrant killed two people and wounded several others near a ticket counter at the Los Angeles airport before he was shot to death by an El Al Israel Airlines security guard.
Some gun owners who take their weapons to the airport cite the need for protection. Others carry a gun frequently and say they do not want to be bothered finding a place to stash it if they go to the airport.
Joel Rosenberg, a firearms instructor in Minneapolis, said he regularly carries a gun to the city's airport and has not heard of any problems caused by the policy.
"People who are law-abiding are going to be law-abiding whether they have a .38 snubby on their hip or not," he said.
Some airports that allow the guns say they are trying to accommodate the culture of their patrons.
"We like our guns in Michigan," said Scott Wintner, a spokesman for Detroit Metro Airport.
Similarly, Brian Murnahan, spokesman for the Dallas-Fort Worth airport, said his airport's policy is driven by pragmatism: Texans often carry guns. "While we certainly don't encourage people to bring guns to the airport, we are trying to be reasonable," he said.
The state's other major airport has a strict no-guns ordinance.
"It's posted everywhere," said Marlene McClinton of Houston-George Bush Intercontinental Airport. "But this is Texas," she said, explaining that the airport has cited some visitors for violations. Unlawful carrying of a weapon is a misdemeanor in Texas, punishable by up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine.
Gun rights supporters say law-abiding citizens with guns could fire back and cut short a gunman's rampage. But Ron, the Israeli security expert, said the last thing airport security agents need is a hail of bullets and no idea who the bad guy is.
"That leads to chaos," he said, "and that can lead to tragedy."
"We like our guns in Michigan"? Really? What kind of an answer is that. And there is a sad story about now deceased Minnesota gun rights activist Joel Rosenberg, quoted in the article above. Not only did he apparently carry his gun at the MSP airport, he also posted a video of himself carrying his gun in the Minneapolis City Hall. For that he was charged and arrested. I would say that, well known as he was and beloved by some, he didn't exhibit a lot of common sense when it came to gun carrying.

If you are a passenger, hopefully you have already packed your gun in your checked luggage by the time you get to the secure area or you will be one of the folks the TSA will pull out of line and maybe even arrest for trying to bring a gun on board a plane. If you are picking someone up in the baggage area, please tell me what in the world you are so afraid of that you simply MUST have your loaded gun on your person to do so. Come on. There is absolutely no reason to need a gun in these areas of the airport. People want them but they don't need them.


  1. japete writes: "They also think the American public should just be more comfortable with people carrying guns around in public."

    Clearly they are, as the 50th state just passed a concealed carry law - with strong bipartisan support.

    "They should not be at airports and on airplanes at the least. "

    Minnesota Law allows a permit holder to carry a firearm at an airport in the state - however they cannot carry a firearm in the federally defined sterile area (i.e. beyond the security checkpoint).

    1. No Bryan. The public is not clamoring for gun permit laws. They have managed to pass because the gun lobby got it's way by deceiving the legislatures who passed the laws. I feel much better now knowing that people can carry their guns into airports. That hasn't gone so well for the few who have used their guns at airports. It's pretty sad that the MSP airport is one of only 7 in the country that allow guns in the non-secure areas of airports. I, for one, am not proud of that. http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-201_162-4525263.html


      " A shooting at Houston’s Bush Intercontinental Airport rattled passengers Thursday.
      A man is alleged to have walked into the ticket area inside Terminal B at approximately 1:35 p.m. and fired an AR-15 rifle at least twice into the air as he apporached a security checkpoint, a Houston Police Department spokesman said.
      In response, an air marshal fired at the man, but missed, and then the suspect pulled out another gun which he turned on himself, KHOU News reported. In all, a total of five to seven shots were fired."

      http://espn.go.com/espn/story/_/id/8486252/a-father-justice- Did this man have to shoot his son's abuser?


    2. Name me a reason why a gun is NECESSARY in an airport. The public is not asking for these laws. It's the gun rights extremists who drum up fear and hysteria and are more organized than the gun violence prevention folks who are not one issue people. The get their folks to come to the legislature. They send e-mails and phone calls. I will admit that my side is not as good at this. That is a problem for us that we need to resolve. Because we know the public pretty overwhelming supports reasonable gun and restrictions on guns and who can have them. It looks like Illinois residents supported the conceal and carry law ( http://capitolfax.com/2013/04/29/poll-downstaters-dont-care-about-chicago-concealed-carry/) by 52% but then supported the idea of Cook County and Chicago law enforcement to decline a permit to someone based on character. Interestingly, the support broke down on the usual lines- rural vs. urban women vs. men, etc. " But the voting public absolutely loves this idea, with a whopping 73 percent voicing their approval. “I can’t get 73 percent of people to agree that it’s dark at midnight,” joked We Ask America pollster Gregg Durham last week.

      “If a concealed carry law is passed, Chicago and Cook County law enforcement officials want the right to stop a permit being issued to any individual in Chicago or Cook County when there is a concern about the applicant’s character,” respondents were told. “Do you think they should be able to stop a permit in Chicago or Cook County under those circumstances?”

      A mere 22 percent disagreed with the proposal and only 5 percent were neutral or had no opinion.

      The results didn’t surprise Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago), who is attempting to craft a compromise bill. Raoul said he believed that Downstaters don’t care what happens in Chicago or anywhere else as long as they get their right to carry. And Chicagoans are so concerned about guns that they want their local cops to have an extra say."

      Do these folks who supported the idea of conceal and carry fully understand that character does not come into play in shall issue conceal and carry situations? Perhaps if better educated, they would change their minds. Time will tell if this is a good idea. Chicago has a serious problem with gun violence that allowing more people to carry guns will not solve. It just may make it worse rather than better.

      Do I have to remind you that Justice Scalia specifically said that there can be restrictions on what types of guns, who can have them and where they can be carried ( sensitive places?) It is not a constitutional right to carry guns wherever you want. It is because of the well funded and well organized corporate gun lobby that these laws got passed.

  2. japete: "Name me a reason why a gun is NECESSARY in an airport."

    I have absolutely no obligation to give you a reason for exercise of an action that is already legal and connected to a specific, enumerated, constitutional right.

    Give me a reason why a blog is NECESSARY for you to write? No reason is necessary - and the First Amendment protects your right to say, think, and write.

    "It's the gun rights extremists who drum up fear and hysteria and are more organized than the gun violence prevention folks who are not one issue people."

    More like the gun rights supporters have the facts, law, and constitutional principles on their side - along with popular support.

    Illinois law enforcement, just like Minnesota sheriff's, can deny a permit in many situations. That decision has to be defended through a judicial process if challenged - because we don't allow bureaucrats and politicians to deny someone a constitutional right on a whim or a hunch - or because they just don't like guns.

    1. For you to try to equate writing a blog with carrying a gun is specious and argumentative. There is no comparison. There is no whim involved in denying a permit to someone with a serious character problem or someone who is potentially dangerous. That is not a hunch. Law enforcement denies for very good reasons. You guys just made up the idea that their denial was for frivolous reasons. You don't like law enforcement. You don't like anyone telling you what to do. That is what this is all about. It's only 2-4% of you who even are interested in carrying and getting permits in the first place? For that minority we are twisting ourselves into pretzels for something that is potentially dangerous to public health and safety,

  3. japete writes: "For you to try to equate writing a blog with carrying a gun is specious and argumentative. There is no comparison."

    They are both specific constitutional rights. Easily comparable - and should be treated to the same level of scrutiny against governmental infringement.

    "There is no whim involved in denying a permit to someone with a serious character problem or someone who is potentially dangerous. That is not a hunch. Law enforcement denies for very good reasons."

    I believe strongly that law enforcement should be able to deny a permit based on a "very good reason" as long as that very good reason is supported by fact and can be defended in court. Unfortunately, that's not always the case - we can see that in the hundreds of thousands of dollars paid out by Ramsey County to defend former Sheriff Fletcher's specious and arbitrary permit denials since 2003 - until he was defeated in his re-election attempt.

    We even have police chiefs in some 'may issue' states like Massachusetts that just deny all permits. I experienced this myself in Quincy, MA in the late 1990s. Guess who had permits? Friends of the Mayor, City Council, and the Police Chief. Hardly a "very good reason".

    "You don't like law enforcement."

    I previously worked in law enforcement and come from a family with a long history of working in law enforcement. Many of my friends are local, state, and federal law enforcement officers. Your comment couldn't be further from the truth.

    1. You may personally respect law enforcement but many of you gun rights guys do not. I'm happy to hear that you do. As to the rest, we will have to agree to disagree. There is no point in going around and around.