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Our Fine Government at Work

A man who mistakenly brought a load gun to Ronald Reagan National Airport was arrested by the TSA. At first glance you might think, “Well duh. Sounds like government is doing its job for once.”

Not so fast.

WASHINGTON (CNN) — A passenger who went through an airport security checkpoint — before remembering that he had a loaded gun — is facing charges after going back to report his error, authorities said.

Gregory Scott Hinkle, 53, of Davis, West Virginia, went through a Transportation Security Administration checkpoint at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport about 7:30 a.m. Sunday, an airport spokeswoman said.

After the traveler evidently recalled having the gun, he returned to the checkpoint and disclosed the weapon, authorities said.

The TSA contacted airport police, who charged the man with possessing or transporting a firearm into an air carrier terminal where prohibited, a misdemeanor, and released him. He is scheduled to appear April 2 in Arlington County, Virginia, General District Court.

So we have a guy who mistakenly brings a gun to the airport, makes it through the security checkpoint, realizes his mistake, tries to rectify and gets arrested. In short, don’t attempt to comply with the law after the fact. Continue on to your flight, get on board, and fly with the gun, and head on through to the baggage claim once your plane lands and not get arrested. Wouldn’t it make more sense to not come down so hard on what appears to be a decent law abiding citizen and instead spend more time focusing on how the security checkpoint failed? Just an idea.

And here is another one: How about instead of worrying if I have Head-n-Shoulders or Pantene in my small 2 oz. bottle, inside a zip lock baggie, inside another bag with my other liquids…maybe these TSOs should concentrate on…oh I don’t know…guns, knives, explosives, and so forth. I imagine under the right circumstances a shampoo bottle could explode, but all that does is make a mess inside my carry on bag.

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About Steve Verdon
Steve has a B.A. in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles and attended graduate school at The George Washington University, leaving school shortly before staring work on his dissertation when his first child was born. He works in the energy industry and prior to that worked at the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the Division of Price Index and Number Research.

Comments

  1. Dave Schuler says:

    I think your outrage is misdirected, Steve. Are you suggesting that it shouldn’t be against the to carry a firearm into areas of airline terminals? Or that the TSA employee should have used discretion in enforcing the law?

    The former seems imprudent. The latter is a suggestion that the TSA employee should have exceeded his or her authority. It isn’t up to the TSA employee to decide how, whether, or when the law should be enforced. That’s the responsibility of the court and I suspect the accused will just be put on probation, at least that’s what I think the prudent and appropriate judgment would be.

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  2. Dave Schuler says:

    BTW my own view is that the TSA shouldn’t be involved in security screening in airports at all. It’s an obvious violation of the 4th Amendment. The job should be left to the airlines themselves as it’s always been.

    The problem is that the airlines don’t want the job and they didn’t take it seriously when they had it.

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  3. Steve Plunk says:

    Read the news report. The airport police, not the TSA, issued the citation.

    Look, cops are cops, they are the proverbial hammer looking for nails. It doesn’t matter if the guy was a good guy or not the cops aren’t going to pass up the opportunity to write a ticket or make an arrest. It’s what they are trained to do.

    If you want common sense and discretion then train them that way.

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  4. Christopher says:

    Are you still being a crybaby, Steve, about airports and airlines? Stop already! You are like an old woman.

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  5. Diane C. Russell says:

    Seems to me that the TSA employee(s) who let him through security should be arrested.

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  6. Tlaloc says:

    The latter is a suggestion that the TSA employee should have exceeded his or her authority. It isn’t up to the TSA employee to decide how, whether, or when the law should be enforced.

    Come on, Dave. Do you expect the police to arrest everyone they see jaywalking, or who speeds one mph over the limit? We have to allow some leeway for common sense in the application of law enforcement. Or to put it another way if your mob informant litters do you arrest him, even though it damages your ability to get at bigger crimes?

    What affect does this have on law enforcement? Is the next guy who makes a dumb mistake going to own up to it? Or are they possible going to do something much more reckless like take the gun with them on the plane or even stash it in the terminal?

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  7. Tlaloc says:

    The problem is that the airlines don’t want the job and they didn’t take it seriously when they had it.

    While I tend to agree with you this is a hard argument to take seriously in the wake of the TSA obviously passing a guy with a loaded gun.

    I’m just saying is all…

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  8. Dave Schuler says:

    Come on, Dave. Do you expect the police to arrest everyone they see jaywalking, or who speeds one mph over the limit? We have to allow some leeway for common sense in the application of law enforcement. Or to put it another way if your mob informant litters do you arrest him, even though it damages your ability to get at bigger crimes?

    Once again. Discretion is not for the law enforcement officers. It’s for the courts. One man’s discretion is another man’s police state.

    If we don’t want laws against jaywalking or littering, we shouldn’t have any. But we shouldn’t have cops deciding when the laws should or should not be enforced.

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  9. Plumb Bob says:

    Discretion is not for the law enforcement officers. It’s for the courts… we shouldn’t have cops deciding when the laws should or should not be enforced.

    Complete nonsense. The police constantly exercise discretion as part of their jobs. Evaluating intent is part of that. The man was clearly attempting to cooperate with the law, not break it. The policeman should have treated the instance as though the man had declared the weapon properly, as he was trying to do.

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  10. legion says:

    While the TSA should clearly be thanking the hell out of this guy (and using the to-do over his ticketing by the airport cops as cover to clean house of whatever incompetence allowed this to happen in the first place), I would like to point out one thing:

    He was ticketed for a misdemeanor.

    Given the rather draconian things that could happen to someone who, even mistakenly, brought a gun into an airport, he basically got off as lightly as he possibly could, without the cops in question actually ignoring the gun completely. As the article says, he’s only got to appear in court in April, where I’m pretty sure the judge will exercise some of that ‘discretion’ discussed above…

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  11. Tlaloc says:

    Once again. Discretion is not for the law enforcement officers. It’s for the courts.

    I don’t get this, Dave. It sounds like you are arguing for the police to be robots. It sounds in fact like a case of putting ideology WAY ahead of reality.

    There is a very good reason to allow the police to use a *modicum* of discretion- the law is imperfect and the only way to keep it from being downright anti-human is to inject a little humanity into the process. At every step.

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  12. Tlaloc says:

    He was ticketed for a misdemeanor.

    Given the rather draconian things that could happen to someone who, even mistakenly, brought a gun into an airport, he basically got off as lightly as he possibly could, without the cops in question actually ignoring the gun completely.

    They don’t have to ignore it they can say “go home put the gun away and come back, or surrender it to us now and get on your flight. Your choice.”

    I agree that the misdemeanor charge is certainly better than the one way trip to Guantanamo treatment, but it is still overboard for a person with no intent to break the law who turned themselve in when they accidentally took something legal someplace it wasn’t supposed to go.

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  13. Steve Verdon says:

    Dave,

    How the heck did you come to that conclusion? My point is that sometimes exercising a little common sense would probably be the best course of action. Sure this guy broke the law, but when he is talking to TSA, and wants to rectify the situation, the solution is to arrest him?!?!?! The obvious perverse incentive is that people who don’t want to fly with a gun might opt for just that option.

    The former seems imprudent. The latter is a suggestion that the TSA employee should have exceeded his or her authority. It isn’t up to the TSA employee to decide how, whether, or when the law should be enforced.

    Actually Law Enforcement Officers are allowed discretion. That is why sometimes the police let people off with a warning vs. writing a speeding ticket.

    And here I am agreeing with Tlaloc again. Let me, yep it is now 20 deg. F in Hell.

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  14. Michael says:

    It’s interesting that the TSA fired the screener at Reagan National Airport who let the passenger with the gun through security, yet they let police officers beat up passengers and keep their jobs.

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