No Guns on Planes Law: Common Sense or Anti-gun?

There was a pretty cool op-ed in the Florida Sun-Sentinel published Friday by the paper’s editorial board. Here’s an excerpt:

The law isn’t confusing.

There’s no complex wording, nuance or tricky phrases that need interpretation.

Quite simply, in Florida, you cannot bring a gun into an airport. If you want to travel with your gun, it must be unloaded and in your checked baggage.

“Travelers may only transport UNLOADED firearms in a locked, hard-sided container as checked baggage,” the advisory from the Transportation Security Administration reads.

That’s as simple and direct as you can get.

So what part of “no guns allowed” do people still not understand?

For the second year in a row, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport ranked among the top 10 airports in the nation for the number of guns intercepted at checkpoints, the TSA reported earlier this month.

Security officers caught 49 guns at the Fort Lauderdale airport in 2014, an increase over the 45 nabbed in 2013. Nine guns were spotted at Palm Beach International in 2014, down from 11 in 2013. At Miami International, 33 guns were caught, up from 24 in 2013.

For comparison, consider that the three airports serving New York City — LaGuardia, JFK and Newark — confiscated a total of 12 guns in 2014. Again, that’s all three airports combined.

Not only are too many people in South Florida putting guns in their carry-on bags, they’re often putting loaded guns in their bags.

Again, is the law really that hard to understand? Is common sense really that rare a trait these days?

The question I have for you is: should law-abiding citizens be allowed to carry firearms onto airplanes? Or, put another way, are laws that ban one from carrying on board a 747 common sense or anti-gun?

My take? Well, I don’t believe there are a lot of common sense gun laws on the books but this one, a ban on carrying on board airplanes, seems to make sense given our current reality (That said, I do support the air marshall program as well as the the Federal Flight Deck Officer or armed pilot program, as I do think having armed security while traveling 30,000 miles off the ground is warranted, particularly in a post 911 world).

My reason for supporting the ban has nothing to do with not trusting fellow gun owners to be responsible with their firearm while flying — after all, millions of concealed carry permit holders carry everyday in the public square without incident — but has everything to do with the complications it would cause TSA and the subsequent delays it would cause at airports. As it stands right now, wending through a TSA checkpoint at an airport is an arduous and lengthy process. I’ve been poked and prodded and pricked for wearing a belt buckle that was too big, I can only imagine how much more invasive these searches and pat downs would be if airlines allowed one to carry firearms.  TSA agents would be detaining gun owners left and right to double check and triple check that they had CCW permits;I think it would turn into one big mess.

Maybe my concerns are overblown, but I don't know how TSA would respond if they started allowing CCW permit holders on board planes.  It could be a nightmare.

Maybe my concerns are overblown, but I don’t know how TSA would respond if they started allowing CCW permit holders on board planes. It could be a nightmare!

There’s also the issue of airlines, right? Even if the law allowed one to carry when flying, for liability concerns, it stands to reason that airlines wouldn’t permit it anyhow. Given that they’re corporations, it’s ultimately up to their board of directors and CEOs whether to allow one to carry. Then again, suppose the airlines permitted concealed carry. To cover insurance costs, how much would they have to raise ticket prices? My guess, ticket prices would be exorbitant.

Again, don’t get me wrong, I hate the notion civil disarmament under any circumstances. But in the case of flying which is an isolated exception, it might just be the practical position to take given an inept TSA and airlines with an anti-gun corporate philosophy.

What are your thoughts? I’m I being too conciliatory to the way things are? Should I be more idealistic when it comes to the 2A? Should we demand that the TSA and the airlines change their ways as opposed to us simply accepting the status quo?  I’m open to suggestions on this discussion topic.

{ 22 comments… add one }
  • RDB January 27, 2017, 11:05 pm

    I didn’t mention it in my first comment, but I think there should be a minimum of two FAMs on each flight.
    As to a bullet hole causing a catastrophic disintegration of the plane due to the pressure difference, probably not, but if the aircraft is old and the bullet hits the right place, you never know. More concerning in damage to wiring, fuel tanks, and hydraulic lines, etc. Critical systems are almost always duplicated in aircraft for redundancy, but aircraft are also built with very thin metal to keep them light. That means a bullet can go a long way if it doesn’t hit a big solid piece. Just because you have two independent hydraulic systems, doesn’t mean that both can’t be taken out by one bullet. Almost all airliners now are “fly by wire”, meaning that there is no mechanical link between the pilot and the control surfaces, just wires and hydraulic lines.
    Just a hole in a gas tank with fuel leaking out is not good. Most jet liners have a tank in each wing and the fuselage, and they carry as much as 300,000-500,000 pounds of fuel (6 lbs/gallon), so that’s a lot of diesel fuel, and the tanks aren’t small! If fuel leaks into the wings or fuselage, there are many things that can light it off. Remember, commercial airliners always have an engine in each wing, While the air passing through may keep fuel from accumulating in the wing, you don’t want to count on that saving your ass. Worse yet in the fuselage, where fuel tank damage would be most likely to occur. A fuel fire in a wing or fuselage,can destroy a plane in minutes or less. The Aluminum is thin and melts at a low temperature, not a good recipe for a shooting range with a lot of fuel tanks around. I think everyone catches my drift that while the classical “plane blowing up due to pressure related issues” isn’t likely, an aircraft is still not a safe place to shoot a gun. There are usually “Dead Zone” in the fuselage wall where there is nothing, or very little, important, and a bullet going through is probably not a big deal. However, you have to have been trained exhaustively to know where those areas are in a given make/model.

  • rdb` January 27, 2017, 10:28 pm

    As a pilot with a CCW who carries most of the time, I think this would be a bad idea. At 30,000 ft or more,you don’t want to go punching holes in the fuselage for all sorts of reasons i won’t enumerate here. It has the potential to be very bad for the aircraft’s flight characteristics. Air marshalls are trained on this. An aircraft cabin is a high density situation where many people will likely panic, making clear shots difficult to impossible, and I just can’t see where the odds are in your favor having untrained civilians carrying handguns. As most people know, you’ve got to carry “ready to draw” and “locked & cocked” to do you much good if you ever need it. Plus, it confuses the Air Marsshalls. How do they know who the good and bad guys are. As Ft. Lauterdale showed, we even have to consider how we let people transport guns during air travel. It’s just too easy to do what that guy did. I’ve carried guns on airliners a lot as a hunter, and have often thought how easy it would be to take one out of your bag at the baggage claim and load it before anyone knew what was going on. I think we may have to have an arrangement where you check your gun in, and pick it up, at a special location, and the question comes as to whether you should be able to keep ammo with it. I’d gladly agree to this arrangement in exchange for uniform laws across the country and world. Anyone who has hunted in Mexico knows that you want to carry as much ammo in as you can due to price and limited availability. Maybe it will be good for gun stores next to airports. There are lots of options, none perfect, but I don’t think allowing carry in the cabin, and carrying guns in checked luggage like we do now is the answer. Ultimately, these mass shootings just do legitimate gun owners harm.
    One of the reasons people accidentally carry guns through security is just forgetting about them if you carry all the time. I’ve never forgotten my gun, but I’ve lost a few nice knives by forgetting to take them out of my pockets. As far as the airport area before the security checkpoint, the laws vary all over the place, so you have to check and find out whether your airport allows you to carry a concealed weapon up to the security checkpoint.

  • Manshooter December 30, 2016, 9:56 am

    Never going to happen..To continue the conversation would be pointless.

  • tweedmus November 19, 2016, 5:06 am

    Just for the sake of argument (no matter how sensible this seems, political reality makes it extremely unlikely), let’s consider the opposite.
    Do you think anyone would hijack a plane if a large number of passengers were armed? It would be suicidal and utterly pointless. If as many passengers as possible were armed, the percentage of people who want to get to their destination would vastly exceed the number who want to do the opposite. Airlines could offer discounts to those who fly armed; a CCW could be a qualification (of course, all states would be required to be shall issue or risk losing their air service), or the airlines could set what qualifications they prefer and provide training to those who seek the discount and, if they felt it necessary, issue fragmenting cartridges to armed flyers (although my personal feeling is that those rounds have been shown ineffective in most cases as they lack the necessary penetration). The one thing that cannot be predetermined is the desire of someone to do harm to others, but as most people do not it would be quite a bit safer if the majority were armed.

  • Billy February 24, 2016, 9:51 am

    I don’t have to fly, just as I don’t trust any government entity or law enforcement people or person to protect me and or my family.
    God bless TEXAS, I can carry as many guns as I want, and get to my destination by truck.

  • Gabe September 27, 2015, 2:35 am

    I too think guns shouldn’t be on your person, but don’t totally disarm me. At least allow me my buck knife to defend my family and myself with. I’m a 100°/. Disabled vet and need some sort of a fighting advantage having been trained to use it. Staring in the face of death I WON’T go down without a fight!!!!!!

  • ezkl2230 February 3, 2015, 7:05 am

    All you folks who want to put your trust in federal air marshals (FAMs), consider this: there are TEN MILLION FLIGHTS PER YEAR in the US (http://www.cnn.com/2012/01/09/travel/safe-air-travel-2011/), but there are FEWER than 3,500 federal air marshals (FAM) – their numbers were cut (http://www.cnn.com/2014/02/25/us/air-marshals-cut/). Do you STILL like your chances that a FAM is going to be on YOUR flight the next time you fly? FAMs on every flight is yet another myth, but then, the same people who trust in FAMs to save their bacon on a flight are probably also the same ones who think waiting 15 or 20 minutes or longer for police to arrive and save the day is just peachy, too.

  • Phil February 2, 2015, 4:34 pm

    OK, dangerous items I can understand, but what the heck is the TSA doing looking for and confiscating headphones and sports jerseys?
    How does that fall under their jurisdiction?

    • Mike D February 2, 2015, 11:56 pm

      They need some good swag to sell on eBay, man!

  • ezkl2230 February 2, 2015, 2:57 pm

    As a former TSA officer, I still back individual carry on aircraft. First, there are very few air marshals on flights any more. As far as I am concerned, if I don’t have to wait for police on the ground, where there are more officers available, then I shouldn’t have to wait for an air marshal who may or may not even be present on my particular flight. Think about it. You’re on an aircraft with no air marshal, and your options are 1) wait for terrorists – or just some crazed idiot with an axe to grind – to begin killing passengers, or wait for those two F16s that just appeared to escort tour flight to splash your flight when someone on the ground decides that the plane you are on represents too great a risk.
    Ok, so pilots are allowed to carry. First, very few avail themselves of that right. In fact pilots were among those who opposed that idea. Second, their firearm must be stored in a lock box for the duration of the flight, and can only be accessed if the cockpit is in danger of being briefed. They have to remain in the cockpit with the doors locked and try to get you to the ground where law enforcment will attempt to effect an entry – hopefully without getting too many people killed. In the meantime, the bad guy is free to kill as many as he can.
    Third, while it is very unlikely that a firearm will make it through a security checkpoint, historically hijackings have required the assistance of people on the ground to place weapons on board an aircraft. That remains the weak point in security. Ground/maintenance crews are still not required to go through security, nor are their tool boxes routinely checked, yet the have full access to aircraft. It is STILL possible for them to smuggle weapons on board aircraft. Thankfully, this hasn’t happened in quite a while.
    Finally, the scenario that scares gun grabbers so much – that if we allow carry on aircraft and someone tries something, every carrier is going to want a piece of the action and the aircraft will turn into a slaughter house. It hasn’t happened on the ground; there is no reason to think it will happen in the air. The majority of carriers are very conscious of the possibility of collateral damage and do their best to avoid it. The knowledge that someone could be carrying has decreased crime in Detroit and Chicago, just to name a couple of cities. It will likewise act as a deterrent to bad guys on aircraft as well.

    • Brandon February 2, 2015, 8:34 pm

      I agree with a lot of what you said, however I still disagree with your conclusion. As Dave said the ramifications of piercing the hull of the pressurized cabin can be too great to allow loaded firearms on the plane. If someone is fine with dying then there is no effective deterrent.

      • ezkl2230 February 2, 2015, 9:36 pm

        As I noted in response to Dave’s post, this is a disproven myth.

      • gary May 12, 2017, 10:58 am

        just more restatement of the same old claims……………. BS the facts are that ccw is a deterrent get over it. We as a group are more responsible with where put our rounds, we do not want to get sued!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Dave February 2, 2015, 2:46 pm

    Shooting a firearm on an airplane can have terrifying consequences. A small hole in a pressurized cabin at A35K can tear an airplane to pieces. As a CCW permit holder, I would have to agree that unless the firearm is Unloaded and Checked, it should not be allowed on an aircraft. I’d had to see an increase in Aviation Accidents due to negligent discharges.

    • ezkl2230 February 2, 2015, 9:34 pm

      This myth has been debunked many times. It takes a sizeable hole in an aircraft fuselage to cause catastrophic failure, http://science.howstuffworks.com/innovation/science-questions/gun-on-plane.htm, http://youtu.be/4yG2h1aDB6k

    • Josh 'Acecool' Moser November 8, 2016, 2:28 am

      There was a plane in the 70s, if I recall correctly, which lost a major portion of the top and side of the aircraft.. 10 rows or so were exposed on the sides ( down to the floor ) and above ( half or more of the tube / structure was gone )… The passengers reported seeing a lag in when the aircraft turned and when the cockpit followed because of lack of structural integrity… I believe only 1 life was lost, a flight attendant..

      It was due to the lack of safety checks with microfractures of the fuselage caused by each cycle of flight ( take off and landing is one cycle; ie pressurize and depressurize ) and it was an island hopper with 20+ cycles per day ( where-as the long-hauls flights see 1 to 2 and maybe 3 or so ).

  • Mickey February 2, 2015, 1:31 pm

    i agree with you it’s my right to carry but not all people react to a crisis the same I don’t need 200 people pulling out their weapons and shooting the good guys on a airplane

  • Rich7553 February 2, 2015, 11:21 am

    “…while traveling 30,000 miles off the ground…”.

    Umm, you mean 30,000 feet perhaps?

    • Rob August 10, 2015, 6:15 am

      30,000 miles… That’s over 29,000 miles past the International Space Station that sits at 249 miles above earth.

    • Josh 'Acecool' Moser November 8, 2016, 2:30 am

      I saw that too… The engines would start having a bit of trouble much much sooner,,,

  • USMC69 February 2, 2015, 9:50 am

    Abolish the TSA. See wait times disappear.

  • Pete February 2, 2015, 7:56 am

    Comprising a God given right because it’s an inconvenience or because ticket prices would rise? Isn’t that a tactic used by the anti-gun organizations?
    What’s right and whats easy are never the same thing. You are lazy.

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