Editorial | Rescinding concealed carry permits will help keep air travel safe, efficient

The Transportation Security Administration has plenty of security screening rules that seem a bit ridiculous to the ordinary airplane passenger. Want to carry on a 4-ounce bottle of water? Not a chance. Live lobsters are also regulated, so if you plan on boarding with one, be prepared to have a TSA officer “visually inspect” it.

But one perfectly reasonable rule is the ban on firearms in carry-on bags. Many passengers going through Pittsburgh International Airport seem to have forgotten this as of late. At a Wednesday press conference, local acting U.S. Attorney Steve Kaufman said security has found 27 guns this year. Naturally, many of these gun owners claim to have simply forgotten it was in there. We can’t say we relate.

Given this spate of amnesiac gun owners, the Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office has begun rescinding the concealed carry permits of travelers who try to board with a firearm. This is a necessary step to keep air travel safe, and will hopefully incentivize passengers to double check their bags before they head to the airport.

It should go without saying that, in the wrong hands, a gun on an airplane could have tragic consequences. And while Pennsylvania’s concealed carry permit requirements are relatively strict, no degree of background checks or residency requirements can guarantee positive intent 100% of the time.

There are also negative effects of simply attempting to bring a gun through security. For one, police may become involved and detain the passenger for questioning, on top of fines ranging from $3,000 to $13,910. This brings security checkpoints to a standstill and, beyond the general annoyance of delays, may cause other passengers to miss their flights. Responsible gun ownership is more than just keeping the safety on, it also involves the common courtesy of not burdening others with your poor choices.

Authorities are unable to file charges in these situations, since it’s difficult to prove intent. Clearly a greater incentive was needed to keep firearms out of security checkpoints than fines and temporary detainment. Hopefully rescinding concealed carry permits, combined with these other measures, will incentivize more people to, as Kaufman put it, “check your bags five times,” before traveling. There may be a misconception that these permits carry over to airplanes — at least, it’s comforting to believe that this is what’s causing people to bring guns to an airport. Gun owners shouldn’t be able to carry in public if they believe this misconception and act on it.

Ignorance of the law isn’t a defense in this case. On top of that, travelers deserve safety, security and an efficient process when preparing to fly. Going through airport security is already aggravating enough.