The attorney’s office of Los Angeles is going to be deciding if they will bring charges against a man who was found to have a loaded gun in his checked bag. The man was questioned by police and then released after a ramp crew at the airport found the loaded 89-caliber handgun on Sunday while loading it onto an Alaska Airlines service to Portland, Oregon, which was due to depart at 8:15am.
The Los Angeles Airport Police were called by the workers to report the finding. The man who owned the gun was questioned at the department’s Pacific station, released and then subsequently permitted to board a flight to Portland later. However, he didn’t get to take the gun with him, as this was turned over to Los Angeles police.
Under regulations, passengers can travel with firearms if they are in a checked bag, are unloaded, put in a locked container and declared. Law enforcement sources say that the man didn’t given the airline the necessary notification that he would be checking a gun in his luggage for the trip. He told officers that he flew out of Portland with the same bag three days earlier, and the gun was inside at that time as well. Though, it’s unknown if he declared the firearm for the initial journey or not.
Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) officials didn’t take responsibility for the gun getting passed security screening, though the media has really been brutal in blaming them. Lorie Danker, a spokeswoman, said that they screened the bag for explosives and there weren’t any. It’s the passenger’s and airline’s responsibility to make sure that firearms are correctly transported. Since the gun was in a checked bag, the passenger wouldn’t have had access to it during the flight, she noted.
However, at least one security expert says the agency shared responsibility for the incident. Airport security consultant and former Northwest Airlines head of security Douglas Laird says that the TSA screens checked the bag, and it appears they missed the firearm. Both the passenger and TSA are at fault, he added in an email.
This isn’t the first time that security has let a prohibited item get passed them. A stun gun was found on a plane in July at Newark Airport. Prior to that, a man was found at JFK Airport with brass knuckles, a dagger, sword and stun guns in his luggage. The same month, a United Airlines worker was accidentally shot in the leg as he helped a passenger check his gun at the airport in New Orleans. Hopefully the new technologies that are being developed for airport security will do a better job in preventing incidents such as these.