Gill: Gun culture and the TSA

Nobody has been caught trying to carry a loaded gun onto a plane in Baton Rouge this year, but it has happened 10 times in New Orleans.

Baton Rouge is the one out of step. More and more passengers nationwide are found to be rodded up when they present themselves for airport screening. In the first six months of this year, the Transportation Security Administration grabbed 894 guns, a 30 percent increase over 2012.

It is too early to conclude that New Orleans contains more idiots than Baton Rouge, for the latest figures appear to be an anomaly. Last year, three guns were confiscated in Baton Rouge, compared with 14 in New Orleans, which handles 10 times as many passengers.

Guns are most commonly found at airport in the South and West, where, as press reports have it, “the American gun culture is strongest.” Right. When we hear the word “culture,” we reach for our semiautomatic rifles. It won’t be long before more guns show up at Louisiana airports.

The TSA declines to speculate on why more people wish to be ready to shoot when they enter the cabin, but the reason is obvious. The notion that God wants us to tote firearms has gained currency in recent years, and His authority is thought to trump the TSA’s.

Why the right to bear arms is thought to derive from the Almighty is something of a mystery. Perhaps it is Charlton Heston’s fault for playing Moses in the movies and heading the NRA in real life. Regardless, while nobody claims to know God’s views on double jeopardy or unreasonable searches and seizures, say, He is forever being wheeled out in support of the Second Amendment.

Thus, when Shannon Guess Richardson mailed ricin to President Barack Obama and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, she explained her motive was to protect her “God-given constitutional right” to bear arms. Richardson, admittedly, appears to be unhinged, but Newt Gingrich, when he was running for president last year, also declared gun rights came from God, and nobody questioned his sanity. Well, not over the gun issue anyway.

There is even a “God, Guns and Constitution” organization; its website is being redesigned right now but its tenets may be divined from the title. The main one must be that God wants his people armed.

It is true that when Charlton Heston came down from the mountain, he bore a prohibition against killing, but gun enthusiasts will not believe God meant that to be applied without exception. Only the Second Amendment is to be construed absolutely. Besides, no commandment implies there is anything wrong with taking a .38 on a 747. Therefore, the Bible proves that God is against gun control.

Since God’s views on the right to bear arms are firm, and not conditioned on any need for a militia, well-regulated or otherwise, airline passengers seem increasingly convinced that “there are no limits,” and “if I want to bring a gun on a plane, I’m going to do it.” So says gun policy expert Prof. Robert Spitzer of New York State University.

It certainly does appear that many of the offenders apprehended by the TSA, unless they are preternaturally inept smugglers, are engaged in open defiance. When a guy in Sacramento last year removed his jacket to reveal a shoulder holster containing a loaded pistol, screeners then found he was carrying three more loaded guns, 192 rounds, two magazines and three knives. He was better armed than the average mercenary, and can hardly have expected to avoid detection. He probably thought that, with the Lord and the Founding Fathers on his side, he was striking a blow for freedom.

Thank God for the TSA. How many terrorists have been thwarted in recent years is unknown, but self-styled patriots from our own shores evidently pose the biggest threat to public safety these days. The nuts have grown so bold that the TSA in May set a new record of 65 guns seized at airports in one week.

New Orleans records more seizures per capita than most American airports, whereas only one passenger was nabbed at JFK for the whole of last year. It was probably the only respect in which New York was quieter than Baton Rouge.

James Gill can be contacted at jgill@
theadvocate.com.