Mistakes Were Made: TSA Checkpoint Edition

As I am working on my book proposal, I have been reviewing my career as a gun owner. Over the past 11 years, mistakes have been made. None fatal or physically injurious, thankfully. But mistakes nonetheless.

It’s easy for me to dismiss Madison Cawthorn for so many reasons, including for being caught twice going through TSA checkpoints with a firearm. But it’s also true that in 2013 I had a loaded pistol magazine in my murse as I went through the TSA checkpoint at Piedmont Triad International Airport (GSO).

Coincidentally, I was on a research trip to Houston for my first ever National Rifle Association Annual Meetings and Exhibits. I put my murse on the belt and walked through the metal detector. Once on the other side, they pulled my murse and me to the side. They politely asked if I had anything in my murse that they should know about. No, I said confidently. Any e-cigarettes or anything like that? No, I said, racking my brain for what it might be. Finally, they pulled out of the side pocket a loaded Beretta Nano magazine.

As I never murse-carried that pistol, I didn’t (and don’t) recall how the magazine got in there. But there it was. The TSA agents didn’t make a big deal of it. Just told me they would be keeping the magazine and I would be hearing from the TSA by mail. Sometime later, I received a warning letter from the TSA and that was it.

Of course, I never did it again, unlike some people (I also didn’t get to keep the magazine, unlike some people and their guns), but this blog post by George Mason law professor Robert Leider on “Guns at the Airport” is a thorough consideration of ways we might reduce the growing number of guns being found at airport checkpoints.

Someone recently pointed me to the “Standing His Ground” blog and this is the first post I have read. I’ll be looking forward to reading more.

2 thoughts on “Mistakes Were Made: TSA Checkpoint Edition

  1. David, I want to thank you for your comment on Twitter, as that’s how I discovered Prof. Leider’s blog, which of course I subscribed to just now. Good read on this topic and I just opened his post on Bruen.

    Disregarding Cawthorn as a bit of a clown act (and sorry for my partisan snide remark), it is still important to make a distinction between a careless mistake and a willful violation, such as between careless driving and reckless driving. And the ante gets upped when you ram someone’s car by driving recklessly.

    I’m sure I will make a mistake with Old Sidearm one of these years. Just not yet. Maybe it was my years of working behind the fence at my Federal job and having to know where the cell phone was at all times. Full disclosure, I did have to suddenly and gingerly turn around and walk back out one day for reasons undisclosed. We eventually put in RFID readers at the main gate and everyone who wanted an RFID tag for their phone was given one. Perfect solution. The little voice on the monitor would ring out “warning, cell phone detected” before any damage was done.

    At the Albuquerque Sunport, you can carry up to the security checkpoints. Rest of the airport is OK with carry. I double checked last time I had to go there to drop off my wife and spoke to the TSA folks. They were really nice and told me they have a full range of options and don’t neccesarily arrest anyone unless it is a clear case of someone behaving really badly rather than the old “oops, I thought I left it in the sock drawer…” but say goodbye to your cherished hand cannon and probably be prepared to have a chunk of your checking account go missing.


    • Interesting that you can carry at Sunport airport outside the security checkpoint. Every airport I have been in recently has been posted on the terminal doors. So thought that was a federal thing.


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