A loaded .38-caliber handgun fell out of a checked bag, while loading onto a flight at Los Angeles International Airport Sunday, yet neither the airline nor TSA feels responsible for failing to detect the gun.
The crew discovered the gun when it fell out of an unzipped compartment in a duffel bag loading onto Alaska Airlines flight 563. The flight was bound for Portland, Oregon at 8:15 a.m.
Los Angeles Airport Police were called to the scene to investigate the situation. The gun was found to be undeclared (TSA requires all gun-carriers to notify the airline) and the passenger was detained.
The owner of the gun was questioned by Los Angeles police department at the Pacific station. The unnamed traveler was later released and allowed to board a flight to Portland.
The gun owner told authorities that he had flown with the gun, inside the same checked bag, to Los Angeles three days earlier.
Guns are allowed in checked bags, however they must be kept unloaded in locked hard containers and travelers must notify airlines prior to boarding.
TSA spokeswoman Lorie Dankers told the Los Angeles Times that the bag was screened for explosives, however TSA does not screen checked bags for firearms.
It's the airline and passenger's responsibility to ensure that firearms are transported correctly, Dankers told the Times.
Dankers also noted that the passenger would not be able to access the checked bag during the flight.
Alaska Airlines does not screen passenger bags. Passengers are asked to disclose dangerous items upon check in.
If both the airline and TSA were following standard procedure, it appears there is a large gap in checked bag screening, regardless of all the extra screening measures put in place since the 2001 terror attacks.
Marshall McClain, president of Los Angeles Airport Police union, said that TSA should be screening luggage more thoroughly.
TSA must do their primary mission and do it well, McClain told the Times. Local law enforcement needs to know that TSA is doing their part and not continuously trying to duplicate the law enforcement side of the airport screening program while their primary mission suffers.