LAX Shooting is a Wakeup Call

By Robert Mark on November 6th, 2013

policeGuns and airports don’t mix well … unless those weapons are being carried by law enforcement officers.


As the aviation industry evolves from an era of proactive problem solving to a search for more predictive solutions based on the tons of data we’re gathering about the industry, we should have seen something like last week’s shooting at Los Angeles International Airport coming.

The data was there. It’s just that no one analyzed it for what it really was … a warning.

Each week the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) publishes lists and photos of the weapons their agents confiscate at airport security checkpoints. For all their customer-service foibles, the TSA is at it’s most admirable at these efforts.

In the week ending October 25 — just days before the shooting — the TSA confiscated 39 handguns at major airports like Houston, Jacksonville and Charlotte. Most of them had a round in the chamber too. Look back over the past year alone and you’ll see the weekly numbers were pretty consistent. Hundreds of weapons then have been brought to airports each year. Why?

The reasons the TSA receives for why these gun-toting folks bring their weapons are often simply bizarre. Responses ideas like, “I forgot I had that gun in my computer bag/purse,” or “Of course it’s loaded. What good is it if it’s not loaded.”

Twelve years after 9/11 people trying to jump on an airliner remember to remove their toothpaste and water bottles from their carry ons, but not their loaded 38s.

Did you notice how quickly the story about the LAX shooting seemed to die? That tells me that while we mourn the life of the TSA agent killed, the federal government is not going to begin adding any new security at airports, any more than they’ve figured out how to insure kid’s are safe from weapons at grade schools.

Everyone Loves a Little Good Public Relations

But there is a piece of security PR to be won with a small group that can’t fight back too hard; a group that surely has some of these weapons vulnerabilities that might make for a good story … business aviation … both Part 91 and Part 135.

We don’t screen passengers for weapons, except for the hunting parties we carry and then only to be certain the rifles are unloaded. There is a minor screening of aircraft and crews headed for Washington Reagan (DCA), but that’s a very minor part of the issue.

Business aviation pilots don’t ask passengers if they’re carrying either. In fact, most biz jet pilots would be fired if they even thought of asking passengers about weapons, which makes me think there certainly are some who are carrying.

So business aviation … think about all those guns the TSA grabs every week. Think of how much we don’t know about this aspect of our passengers. The data’s out there if anyone takes the time to read and analyze it. It’s probably time to start watching our backs for a problem that the data says is bound to come down the road pretty soon.

Rob Mark, Publisher



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6 Responses to “LAX Shooting is a Wakeup Call”

  1. Wayne Conrad Says:

    What do you propose to do?

    Firearms are already illegal for “the rest of us” in the secure areas, and for most people in LA, in the insecure area as well.

    Will making them more illegal work?

    Is it coincidence that that terrible shooting, like most others of its kind, takes place in a place where firearms are prohibited?

    Here in Arizona, any lawful citizen may carry a firearm, openly or concealed. If the non-secure area of the airport here, some of the people around you are armed. If the presence of firearms is the problem, then PHX would seem a more likely place for such a shooting than LAX.

  2. R Says:

    Reasons why LAX and not PHX:

    LAX is a MISERABLE place to be:
    “LAX near bottom of [customer satisfaction] rankings” [2010, 19th out of 20 major airports]:

    LAX is getting more crowded, while PHX is getting less crowded…
    CY12CommercialServiceEnplanements (FAA 2012) –

    LAX – 31 million enplanements, growing at 2.5%
    PHX – 19 million enplanements, declining 1%


    PHX (Phoenix)
    Where OLD people
    (usually comfortably well-off)
    go to DIE.

    LAX (Los Angeles)
    Where YOUNG people
    (usually struggling, often desperate)
    go to LIVE.

    (Which crowd is more likely to have reckless and stupid people, doing dangerous things?)

    Really, the “Why not PHX?” notion is a ridiculous comparison on its face.

    But don’t kid yourself:
    Sooner or later, the odds will catch up with PHX, and the other aiports, too.

  3. R Says:

    Why worry about guns on biz birds?

    As long as we have lax (no pun intended) gun rules, we can expect that for every kook with a gun on a plane there will be ANOTHER kook on the plane with a gun, so if one kook starts shooting, the other one will start shooting back, and they’ll cancel each other out (kill each other).

    Of course, there’s no telling where the strays will go. We could lose the EFIS, the FMS, the left tire, the right engine, the left fuel pump, the pressurization controller or a critical valve in the pressurization system, puncture a hole in the bleed air manifold leaking searing hot air into god-knows-what, or possibly simply a bullet lodged in the tailplane jackscrew or right aileron pushrod linkage, or — of course — some expendable other passenger(s)
    …or crew.

    But that’s a TINY price to pay for LIBERTY!

    I regret that I have but one planeload of passengers to sacrifice for my country!

    God Bless America(!)
    …where we love our guns,
    and control our children.

  4. Robert Mark Says:


    Ouch …!

    I agree with the part about the fact that many Americans — not me — love their guns. And honestly, I bet if we went back and looked at the database of NRA members, we’d never find one who ever committed a crime with their guy … at least I think so.

    It’s all the other nut jobs like the guy in LA I worry about. Too bad the NRA and the non-gun owners can’t figure out a way to work together to keep the guys out of the hands of those people.


  5. Jason Says:

    It isn’t that bad, I travel to the states twice a year. People that have bad experiences often have high expectations.

  6. Mike Butorac Says:

    Sorry Rob, but this was a workplace shooting that happened to take place at an airport. No difference between this and those that made the phrase ‘going postal’ part of our vocabulary a while back.


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