Guns, Drugs, and Double Standards

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If you’re going to sneak ammunition past a screener at an airport, it helps if you’re an insider with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). That way, you’re "detained" only briefly, and Our Rulers eagerly make excuses for you. There’s none of this "OK, you @%#$ terrorist, we’re locking you up and throwing away the key" stuff that greets any other passenger carrying six .38-caliber bullets in his pocket.

Joseph Salter is a "former law enforcement official" who now sponges off our taxes as the TSA’s "security director" at T-F Green Airport in Warwick, Rhode Island. Apparently, he returned to the airport when he was off duty and tried to pass through a checkpoint with loaded pockets. "He says he grabbed a coat before heading to the airport with his family," the ABC affiliate, Channel 6, reports. "He forgot the coat had a leather pouch containing ammunition."

Oh, right, "forgot"! Sorry, Joe, that’s a big no-no in the new Amerika. Forgetful folks are now arrested, photographed and fingerprinted. They are fined and even jailed, all because the TSA does not tolerate that common foible, a faulty memory. Indeed, spokesgal Ann Davis defended the TSA’s draconian "enforcement policy" because it "send[s] a message that it’s no longer OK to say, "I’m sorry, I forgot I had my gun in my bag."

We might hope that a man so prone to absentmindedness would empathize with fellow miscreants. But no. Last April 29, at Joe’s very own airport, a passenger named Ken Lee was "stopped" with a "loaded gun, 12 rounds of ammunition and a 3-inch folding knife in his carry-on bag." Did Joe intercede for Lee by pointing out that the battered and bloodied Second Amendment still stands? Did he object when Lee was "detained" because the "evidence" against him was procured without a search warrant? Did he protest the 10 years in prison Lee faces? Of course not! Instead, our man Joe clucked, "There are still people who have not learned that you cannot bring a weapon on board an aircraft.”

Yep. But now that he’s one of them, Joe’s dismissing his lapse as an "embarrassing accident." His buddies in the Powers That Be agree. "State Police Lieutenant Kevin Hopkins says Salter didn’t violate any laws," Channel 6 explains. "A former law enforcement official, Salter’s licensed to carry a gun. T-S-A officials say they’re investigating the incident." Sure they are. No doubt they’re hot on the trail of their boss, Joe Terrorist.

Joe may not have broken the law but he certainly broke TSA regulations, which Our Rulers insist are as ironclad and merciless as any law. The ban on packing ammo in one’s carry-on luggage — including coat pockets — is pretty clear: "No." In case "law enforcement officials" can’t move their lips fast enough while reading that word, the TSA elaborates: "You may only transport firearms, ammunition and firearm parts in your checked baggage. Firearms, ammunition and firearm parts are prohibited from carry-on baggage. There are certain limited exceptions for law enforcement officers who may fly armed by meeting the requirements of Title 49 CFR 1544.219." You see the word "former" in there any place? Neither do I. The TSA concludes by thundering, "We and other authorities strictly enforce these regulations. Violations can result in criminal prosecution and civil penalties of up to $10,000 per violation." Unless, of course, you’re Joe Salter of the TSA.

Around the time of Joe’s "embarrassing accident," Michael James Cade, 26, was "chosen for secondary screening" at San Jose International Airport. During that warrantless search, Mike’s assailant “felt a large bulk item in the front right pocket of Cade’s cargo pants.” Mike said it was a wad of money, but since he doesn’t work for the TSA, his explanation was ignored. Instead, "agents" hustled him to a "private screening area," away from witnesses so that it’s Mike’s word against theirs on what happened next. They claim they found three pounds of methamphetamine in his pocket, surely among the sturdiest and most capacious ever to adorn a pair of britches. Unlike ammunition, "drugs" in general and "methamphetamine" in particular appear nowhere on the TSA’s "Prohibited Items" list. That didn’t keep the "agents" from snitching to the cops, who discovered that Mike "was on probation" and "could be searched" — as if he hadn’t been already. My memory must be as faulty as Joe’s, because I don’t recall that the Fourth Amendment suspends the requirement to obtain a warrant "particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized" if the victim is on probation. Or maybe we have stumbled on one of the police state’s dark little secrets: that we are all on probation and so can be searched with impunity at airports today and anywhere at all tomorrow.

Mike "was charged…in U.S. District Court in San Jose with possession with intent to distribute at least 50 grams of methamphetamine." No "embarrassing accident" here, folks — just an embarrassingly obvious double standard.

Becky Akers [send her mail] writes primarily about the American Revolution.

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