TSA spokesman Mark Howell reminds travelers to check weapons, not to leave in carry-ons (Mark McCarteremail@example.com)
The headline on the media advisory sounded a little preposterous:
“TSA to display/discuss proper way to travel with firearms at HSV”
I’m not real sure that firearms and airports should ever be in the same conversation, much less for the TSA offering tips.
What next? Huntsville city police to advise on best place to hide your beer when you’re pulled over for DUI?
Count me among those who (1) don’t own a firearm and (2) realize it’s a good thing there’s not one in reach when the guy in tank-top, flip-flops and only a passing familiarity with personal hygiene slides into 9D right next to me and begins an 80-decibel cell-phone conversation.
This media event was low-hanging fruit for a snarky, satirical column, and I was headed in that direction. Except:
This was, naturally, about how to travel with properly checked firearms.
(1) There are some people who are compelled to travel with their guns, for business or pleasure.
(2) This was very much a common-sense discussion.
(3) There are some people out there without a lot of walking-around sense who have guns and will travel.
(5) Mark Howell, the regional spokesperson for TSA who travels about holding these sorts of media events, seems like a nice, earnest guy with an important job, and doesn’t deserve any ridicule.
Mostly because (6) I have an upcoming flight and really don’t want to get on TSA’s grumpy side.
According to Howell, there have been only two cases in Huntsville this year where a weapon was discovered at the security checkpoint at Huntsville International Airport. That’s a pace well down from the 10 cases a year ago.
However, the number is rising nationally, mostly because there is also a spike in travel.
Howell said that “99.9 percent …that most of the cases are simply through forgetfulness. I guess if a hurried traveler can forget to pack a belt or underwear, he could also forget that he did stick his Beretta in his carry-on bag. That could ostensibly lead to a fine as high as $7,500.
There are a number of important steps to follow when checking a firearm at the ticket counter. Again, it’s common-sense stuff. The proper case. Make sure it’s unloaded. Make sure you know the gun-carry laws where you’re landing. That varies state-by-state.
The TSA doesn’t want to inhibit traveling with firearms. It just wants to make sure they’re not in cabins and they’re packed smartly.
All well and good, I suppose. These were interesting comments from Howell.
Next time, though, wouldn’t most of us really prefer a display and discussion about how to carry a flask of Chivas in the shaving kit or have a 6-ounce toothpaste tube in a carry-on?