How the NRA Made it Easier to Bring Guns into Airports

Written by Rebecca Leber

On Friday, a gunman “pulled a Smith & Wesson .223-caliber assault rifle from his duffel bag” and opened fire on an airport. Officials have arrested the alleged shooter, 23-year-old Paul Ciancia, who killed a TSA agent and wounded six others at a security checkpoint. The incident is the second airport shooting in six months.

The National Rifle Association has not yet said a word on the tragedy (the day before, the NRA tweeted a story about the so-called “exploitation” of Sandy Hook). But in the past, the NRA has vigorously campaigned to make it easier to bring firearms into airports and criticized TSA agents for their aggressive efforts to ensure guns don’t make it onto a plane. Federal law prevents all travelers from transporting firearms beyond checkpoints (they must be unloaded, checked and declared in luggage), but the NRA has been a force in weakening state law to permit guns before the security checkpoint.

Advance laws that allow guns in airport terminals.

Over the last decade, the NRA has repeatedly lobbied against airport firearm restrictions. According to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, states including Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin either expressly allow firearms in specific sections or only prohibit firearms in airports beyond checkpoints.

And in California in 2012, the NRA formally opposed Assembly Bill 2182, which would have required a person to be arrested if they brought a firearm into the airport and banned them from entering in the future. The bill never moved from committee. More recently, bills introduced in VirginiaGeorgia and Ohio would allow people to carry their weapons inside.

Intimidate TSA agents for aggressively screening for guns.

When the TSA subjected a girl carrying a firearm-shaped purse to extra questioning, the NRA responded that this extra precaution constituted harassment. “We shouldn’t be surprised that security personnel who see nothing wrong with humiliating an 85-year-old women at our nation’s airports might see a teenage girl sporting a purse with a firearm motif as a potential danger,” NRA President David Keene said at the time. “But it should upset us as much as it did her and her parents.” The extra scrutiny may be needed: TSA agents have confiscated 30 percent more guns from passengers, many of them loaded, in 2013 compared to last year. Most travelers say they “forgot” they had the firearm, which has made sociologists think the trend is a result of people being permitted to carry their guns virtually anywhere.

Endorse candidates who oppose limiting guns at airports.

The NRA’s “A-rated” allies are trying to make it even easier to access guns in airports. Virginia Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli (R) and Virginia Attorney General candidate Mark Obenshain voted against a 2004 bill banning guns in airport terminals (it passed anyway). The NRA has spent more than $500,000 to make Cuccinelli Virginia’s next governor.

The NRA will likely argue that this shooting is more proof guns restrictions should be weakened, not strengthened in public areas, since a bystander could intervene in a shooting. All the best research points to this being even more dangerous.

This post was originally published in ThinkProgress

Photo credit: Thinkstock


Michael T.
Michael T5 years ago

Right Scott h

Here are 43 really excellent examples from Sept 26 to Dec 13 from this year of how an armed citizenry have made us abetter nation.

Scott haakon
Scott haakon5 years ago

An armed citizenry makes for a better nation. Notice that the fear of getting shot lowers crime. We need less regulation. Start with 1st graders and gun safety. What parents used to do now falls on the state to ensure that education comes before handling

ewoud k.
ewoud k5 years ago

Why bother about a gun at an airport (or anywhere else), we all know that guns, as the NRA repeats on every possible occasion, ARE NOT DANGEROUS, and, what's more, with more guns around shootings like we had in Aurora, Newton, Manchester and all the other places now marked forever in history WOULD NEVER HAVE TAKEN PLACE!

At least, that is what the NRA wants us to believe.

The reality is quite different, but the fear combined with this propaganda ensures big sales for manufacturers.

Once more, it's the money that counts, not lives.

True, it's the finger that pulls the trigger that kills, but without a trigger this finger is far less deadly.

Jonathan Harper
Jonathan Harper5 years ago


Anne P.
Anne P5 years ago

Why does the NRA continue to have so much power? Are they really so wealthy that they can buy our politicians and subvert the will of the people? Or is campaign money being funneled through the NRA directly from the gun and ammo manufacturers? I am baffled by this, and angry too. The majority of Americans want gun control, especially after the awful tragedy of Sandy Hook. A pox on "lawmakers" who allow the NRA to get away with murder, literally!

Check out this Mother Jones article, "10 Pro-Gun Myths, Shot Down."

Elizabeth F.
Elizabeth F5 years ago

Guns do not belong in airports....

Debra L. Watson
Debra L Watson5 years ago

The NRA are a bunch of gun nuts and need to be put in their place! Guns are too easy to buy without no back ground checks! Their has to be restrictions in place. But then again all those Repuckens have their hands in the pockets of these assholes! We have to stop electing them into office! That's why it's so important to vote in the primary's! And you have to be registered as a democrat or repuken! Independents can't vote in primary's!

Sarah Baldwin
Sarah Baldwin5 years ago

Continued from bottom,
I'm not against responsible gun ownership. If you do feel the urge to own a gun I'd recommend weighing the risks because a gun is most dangerous is the hands of an irresponsible moron. The sad thing is that tragedy's like this one might not be so common if we as a country would fix our lax guns laws, and actually bother to treat the mentally ill. The NRA doesn't give a rat's arse about anyone's safety they just want to make money for the gun manufacturers and they could care less about any of the victims of gun violence. I'd love to the the NRA crash and burn one day. Unfortunately the culture of violence and guns is still alive and well. A girl can dream.

Sarah Baldwin
Sarah Baldwin5 years ago

Sure it's so reasonable to expect an ordinary citizen to do a security guard's job. (sarcasm on) That's totally not a recipe for disaster because we all know that an armed bad guy will just drop when faced with an armed good guy. We all remember that (I might be paraphrasing a bit) "a good guy with a gun always stops a bad guy with a guy." (sarcasm off) FYI using a gun to stop gun violence only adds to the problem. I personally would like to see all guns made illegal, but since that's never going to happen I don't see what the problem is with responsible gun ownership. For goodness sake people the NRA works for the gun manufacturers; their goal is to make everyone so scared of their own shadows so people will run out and buy as many guns as they can get their hands on and damn the consequences if they are in fact allowing dangerous weapons to fall into the wrong hands. They don't care if our kids get murdered in school because some poor sick person went off the deep end, they don't care if our kids aren't able to cross the street or trust that they can go to sleep at night without worrying about drive-by shootings, and they certainly don't care about keeping our airports safe. All the NRA cares about is lining its own pockets and intimidating politicians into doing their bidding. If you are a decent law-abiding gun owner then you have no reason to fear background checks, or being required to lock up your guns and ammunition. I hate guns, but I'm not against responsible gun ow

Joseph Glackin
Joseph Glackin5 years ago

Nikolas K--

NWO? Did you get that over the tin-foil receiver? Watch out for the black helicopters!

Oh, and make sure Mommie checks under your bed, and turns on your nightlight!