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March 8, 2007

The Airlines' Dirty Laundry

[Read Responses Here]

Joyce, a recent widow, is a nurse by profession. Her son, a police officer, encouraged her to acquire a handgun because of her frequent traveling. She has a Indiana handgun license and has taken a tactical handgun course in Ohio, certified in three levels.

On February 11th, Joyce traveled to Vermont to visit a friend, a trip she has made many times before. On her return through the Albany NY airport, she declared her very expensive handgun through the airlines. Per TSA and federal regulations, the firearms was unloaded and in its original case with a cable lock through the barrel. It had two exterior locks and the ammo and magazines were in another case locked in the same manner.

What happened next is shocking.

Instead of asking a federal employee to inspect the locked firearm as had happened in the past, the airline ticket agent asked a young Albany deputy sheriff to do it (there is a sheriff office located inside the airport). The officer pulled her out of line and took her to a room where he eventually fingerprinted, photographed and arrested her. He confiscated her gun without a receipt and she was never read her Miranda rights.

Two female officers then led Joyce to another room where all of her possessions were searched and she was subjected to a physical hand search under her clothing. After she posted a bond, she was escorted back to the airline ticket agent, where she had to buy another ticket from another airline because she missed her connection due to the unjustified arrest.

After purchasing her new ticket -- all the time under observation of the female officers -- she was taken back to another room and was put through the humiliating search AGAIN.

Joyce did everything the airlines and the TSA demanded of her. Yet merely because she legally possessed a firearm, she was treated as if she were a criminal.

It's become increasingly apparent that the airlines do not care about your rights. Concerns about rights are dismissed in the name of "safety." But ironically, it's becoming increasingly apparent that they do not care about your safety either.

Recently, _Consumer Reports_ magazine (www.consumerreports.org) investigated air-safety concerns. The article, entitled "An Accident Waiting to Happen?" appears in their March 2007 issue. CR found that in addition to outsourcing baggage handling and food service, airlines have begun outsourcing airplane _maintenance_ as well, more than half their major maintenance in 2005!

States the article, "Contract repair facilities, especially those overseas, are subject to less oversight ... with fewer screening programs for works, fewer inspections, and loopholes that allow even more subcontracting."

At the same time, CR reports, the FAA is REDUCING actual inspections by its own staff, relying instead on statistical analysis and self-reporting by the airlines. According to NASA's Aviation Safety Reporting System, technicians have reported finding "broken, loose, and missing wheel tie bolts on wheels built up by a contract-maintenance facility."

Interestingly, these same contract maintenance facilities are not always subject to the same levels of screening as in-house operations. States Linda Goodrich, FAA inspector and union executive, "The inspector is basically rendered useless overseas."

The airlines like to cite 9-11 as the reason they have lost over $35 billion in revenue between 2001 and 2006. Perhaps they should consider spending less time harrassing widows and disarming law-abiding citizens, and more time on maintaining the safety of their planes.

As for Joyce, she's in the process of contacting an Albany law firm to take on her case. For further information on her case, you may wish to contact the Knox Firearms Coalition at www.nealknox.com or Gun Owners of America at www.gunowners.org .

- The Liberty Crew

PS Angry about yesterday's UN alert (www.jpfo.org/alert20070307.htm)? Put it to productive use with our UN targets, available at http://www.jpfo.org/targets.htm !


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