Listener: TSA and its “theater security”


That segment on TSA touched a nerve [in Sept. 2019,] and I suspect if you opened the floodgates to your audience, you’d hear endless complaints about them. I could go on about them myself, as air travel is a way of life for me these days, so I’ll limit myself to two of my favorite incidents.

I was flying out of Houston Hobby in February 2018 after a few days down there where I, among other things, took my modest collection of handguns to my favorite range there, where I fired 500 rounds, and fired even more checking out other guns. It was a great time. And, being a true Texan, I had a holster with me with which to conceal-carry with one of those guns.

When I got to the airport, I followed all the procedure for flying with my guns. No loose ammo; I was down to my hollow points which I use for self-defense, and they were all in their magazines; the guns were unloaded, and they were locked in my nice, jet-black Pelican case with TSA approved locks. I was good to go. I still wore my holster because if I didn’t, my jeans would have slid right off my waist. The jeans I had on were bought with concealed carry in mind, and were bigger at the waist to support the holster.

I went through TSA with no issues at first, then I got to the metal detector, where I allegedly set it off, and was told to take off my belt. I did so, and this of course meant my holster came out. The TSA agents flipped their lids as if I had brought a gun through. Never mind it was a piece of leather which held nothing but air.

One agent in particular decided he was going to read me the Riot Act but I just looked at him and said “Sorry, that’s a piece of leather. I can’t do anything with a holster.” Which is true; not even if I had the pitching abilities of Nolan Ryan could I do anything with it to anybody.

The TSA agent said “Well, I have to check with my supervisor!” To which I said please do. I shrugged my shoulders and just gave them the look of “do what you gotta do”.  (I’m too bloody diplomatic; I’m thinking they are a bunch of idiots.) After about 10 minutes of me twiddling my thumbs, the State kindly decided to let me go, with the holster. And once I got back to the Panhandle I discreetly put the EDC in its holster and went about my business.

It’s not just that all of what TSA does is theater – by people exclaiming that “they keep us safe!” and not acknowledging it is, in fact, elaborate theater, this just proves to me that this is not a serious country.

More recently, when I got to Paris earlier this month, I tried to retrieve items from my bag, but found that the zipper was jammed, and jammed in such a way where I thought to myself “I’m going to have to break this thing open and buy another suitcase here.” I was NOT happy. Finally, after fiddling with the thing for an hour, I got it open – and found a lovely note from the TSA explaining that they went through the bag as a random security precaution. Swell. Their random security precaution nearly severely dented my budget there. I already was not happy with them when I returned to the United States nearly a week later. Then my ire grew worse.

The incompetency of government boggles. After clearing Customs (yes, my human rights were violated because authorities in France demanded to see my passport, and CBP demanded to see my passport upon re-entering my own country – can you believe such horror???,) and retrieving my bag to deliver it to another conveyor to be sent off to my connecting flight, I maybe walked a thousand feet, if that – plenty of space to still be in a secure area – only to run into TSA.

In my mind, there is ZERO reason to do that, unless your objective is to flex your muscles and show people that yes, we in fact work for the State, and not the other way around. To make matters worse, they were slowing down the line on purpose to let some drug- or bomb-sniffing dog do his work. My flight was to board in an hour, and I didn’t care about that – if I didn’t make the flight, I did what I was supposed to do, and the airline could figure out a way to get me to my final destination.

I got snippy and shot off my mouth to the TSA agent involved. The dog handler kept yelling “WHAT’D YOU SAY?????” but I ignored him and went on my way. TSA had no appreciation of what an evil mood I was towards them for the bag and how they were handling things at the airport.

Worse, I’ve been around the block a few times. I know this is ALL BS and theater, based on my upbringing.

We are not a serious people in how we approach things. I for one would be happy to exchange charade for effectiveness.

In 1985, I was a young lad living in Germany. In June that year, we had to fly back to the States on emergency leave. We left through Frankfurt, and I am positive we went right through an area where someone left a bomb in a backpack that exploded and killed a mother and her two kids three days later.

In Germany, even then, there was no playing around. The cops went through that airport – and still do – with Uzis out, ready to go at a moment’s notice. Less than a year later when we went thorough that airport, there were signs everywhere warning people to not leave bags unattended; doubtless the cops would assume the worst if they saw one as well they should. (In Nashville some years ago, I was entering a Starbucks when I was politely told by a cop that there was an abandoned bag in there and that it was closed – before she finished the sentence I was about 100 feet the other direction.)

Indeed, when I got to Paris and cleared Customs, and walked out to the arrivals area, I noticed groups of heavily armed French soldiers patrolling the building, and they were not there to pick up some buddies from a deployment with the Foreign Legion. Their rifles were ready to do, and they moved slowly, staring down everyone, trying to see who or what might give them trouble. In France and Germany, and in other countries, the issue of safety in transportation is serious business (though I thought it strange that while the French had us and our bags go through metal detectors before boarding one of their bullet trains, in Belgium we jumped right on aboard to head back into France.)

It’s not just that all of what TSA does is theater – by people exclaiming that “they keep us safe!” and not acknowledging it is, in fact, elaborate theater, this just proves to me that this is not a serious country.

We are not a serious people in how we approach things. (Another example: many Americans have no problem with anyone and everyone strolling right across the southern border but those same Americans would demand my immediate arrest if I didn’t present my passport to CBP to enter my own country.) I for one would be happy to exchange charade for effectiveness.

Done for now, anyways.

– Steven, from Swisher County (but listening in Ohio for now)


  1. Dan Moore says

    Good one, Steven from Swisher. I am just glad I don’t have to fly commercial, at all. I will not be laid hands on and I will not be talked to like that by one of my “employees”..

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