An individual’s second amendment right to bear arms has long been a topic surrounded by heated public opinions. Debates on gun control and public safety go hand in hand. In recent months, whether because of pandemic-related fears or increasing domestic political turmoil – or perhaps both – more and more people have been choosing to equip themselves with a firearm. In particular, individuals are arming themselves before boarding planes. According to CNN, the Transportation Security Administration has communicated that the fact that they have seen such an uptick in those attempting to bring their guns into an airport is becoming a “huge problem.”
The TSA went on to further explain that the increase in those trying to bring guns aboard flights comes at a time when airports are also experiencing a surge of contentious passengers unwilling to cooperate with mandated pandemic-related health guidelines when inside an airport or on a flight. While both upswings are not necessarily correlated, the fact that both issues are simultaneously escalating poses a pertinent public safety concern.
According to Independent UK, David Pekoske, a TSA administrator, currently, they have seen a total of 4,650 people with firearms try to pass through airport checkpoints undetected, which is up by 218 or nearly 5 percent from 2019’s total. The increase is especially alarming given that there are still nearly 3 months to go before 2021 concludes, and the heaviest travel days of the year still have yet to arrive. Newsweek pointed out that Pekokse directly spoke to his concerns relating to the hike in gun-related infractions at airports.
“Firearms, particularly loaded firearms, introduce an unnecessary risk at checkpoints, have no place in the passenger cabin of an airplane, and represent a very costly mistake for the passengers who attempt to board a flight with them…”
Similar to the rise of individuals bringing guns to airports, the increase in combative passengers has also become an equal cause for concern, as well as passengers who turn aggressive as a result of heavy intoxication. CNN detailed that a total of 880 investigations have been opened as a result of incidents caused by contentious fliers, which is a nearly 500 percent increase when compared to the average number of 180 investigations done within a typical year. In fact, CNN noted that in just this past week there have been 98 new cases opened. It is frightening to think that in only one week just over half of the cases usually seen in a single year were filed. Pekoske stated that this is why it’s even “…more important that there are no guns involved.”
The combination of the public paranoia that has prompted many to attempt to bring their guns aboard an aircraft and increasing public contention relating to health mandates is potentially reflective of a larger social crisis. Airports are not the only places experiencing public conflict, backlash, and in some cases crime. Walgreens is closing a handful of its San Francisco-based locations after experiencing what is being referred to as a wave of “organized retail crime.” The stores facing closure have been continuously affected by repeated incidents of shoplifting. The crime spree could be attributed to those desperate to amass themselves with goods as supply chain constraints continue to intensify, or possibly because many retailers, including Walgreens, have been operating on a skeleton crew after millions of people decided to walk away from their jobs.