So I ask him, "What must I do to satisfy your needs?" He replies, "Get another lock." He tells me while pointing to a little shop across the lobby that I can buy a lock there. I walk over and search the entire store - no locks. I ask the cashier if she sells locks. No. I walk back to the TSA officer and advise him that the store doesn't sell locks. End of story? No. He goes behind ticket counter, talks to another TSA officer, and sends him to the same store to see if they sell locks. I assume the guy thinks that I'm lying to him, even after I've shown him that I'm a retired cop.
Several minutes later, the second TSA guy saunters back and tells the first guy that the store doesn't sell locks. The pair confers privately and the second guy ambles off in a different direction this time. I ask the first TSA guy what's happening and he tells me that he's checking a different store across the terminal. He says that they sell gun cases with locks starting at $75.00. I look down at my watch - time is running out, and so is my patience. I try to explain my situation to him. It's Friday night, I'm on the second to the last flight out for the day. I need to get home tonight because my grandson has a hockey game tomorrow. He tells me that he can't let the guns on like that; what if someone was able to pry open the case and take them?
The absurdity hits me like a frying pan in the face. My luggage is soft side. Thanks to TSA, the only acceptable locks are those that TSA approves - ones that are so small and flimsy that they can be pried open by hand. Better yet, the baggage handlers know how to open luggage by simply using a pen to compromise the zippers. Once inside the luggage, all they need to see is my gun case with the bright orange sticker taped on top that says FIREARMS UNLOADED. Then they just take the whole darn case. The TSA guy is not swayed by my rationale.
TSA guy number two shuffles back and tells number one that there are indeed cases for sale with locks at whatever store he was at. But to my surprise, TSA guy one tells me that he doesn't want to see me get stuck for seventy five bucks. He goes in the back and miraculously comes up with a solution. He has decided to use a discarded TSA lock that he puts on my case. He tells me that he doesn't have the combination to it, but that I can cut it off when I get home (when I got home I yanked it apart by hand). I thank him and ask him to escort me around the security checkpoint since I now am in danger of missing my flight. He declines, telling me that I have to go through it again. I end up being the last one to board, but I do make the flight.
The thrust of this article isn't to chronicle my travails during that experience, but rather to illustrate my frustration with TSA's lack of uniformity and protocol. Each airport and airline has different guidelines for weapons in checked baggage. Moreover, the methodology for discerning whether the gun is loaded or not is ludicrous. The Israelis would look at these inspections and be appalled. They simply serve no purpose as they exist, except as a function for covering someone's backside if something goes sideways.
Air travel security isn't to be taken lightly. I would welcome strict new standards that would be conducted by people who are well trained and knowledgeable about firearms. What happens now at the nation's airports is unacceptable.
Stay safe brothers and sisters!