I want to take a few minutes to share my “no-fly list” story.
In August 2007, I flew from Providence to Chicago to visit one of my childhood friends. It’d been years since we’ve talked. Since we re-connected, I had gotten into shooting and became a firearms instructor. I want to take my new passion and share with my old friend.
I brought my four handguns with me. I checked them in with TSA, as I’m supposed to do. I purchased ammunition in the Chicago area from the range where we were going to shoot.
On the way back after the plane landed, I stopped at the restroom then proceeded to pick up my suitcase. But I couldn’t, because my suitcase was not there. I waited and I looked. I couldn’t find it.
I reported this to the luggage retrieval person. They said it would probably be on the next flight and they can call me and I can come pick it up later. I didn’t receive a call the next day. Or the next.
I contacted the FBI stolen firearm hotline. I called the police in Chicago and Providence. I called the airlines and airports in Chicago and Providence. No one could answer any of my questions. I sent in the FA-10 form to tell Massachusetts my firearms were stolen.
Later that week, I called all the news outlets in Boston to tell them that I had a story if they wanted to report it. I did hear from one newscaster, who interviewed me and put my story on television. I also got a call from a news person in Chicago, who is affiliated with the Boston channel. My story was on the tv news in both Boston and Chicago and on their websites.
Two weeks after I got home, I got a phone call from someone in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. He called to tell me his roommate stole my suitcase and he was turning everything over to the local police department. I called that local police department to tell them what was going on also. Later that week I picked up three of my four handguns and none of my clothes, which were missing.
The criminal who stole my suitcase ended it up getting caught trying to sell my snubnose revolver in downtown Providence. I did everything legitimately and by the book, yet I still ended up being the victim of a crime. I legally owned the guns. I legally transported them. I reported to TSA and did research on the airline’s policies about transporting firearms.
The judge wanted to sentence the criminal way for one year. I did some research and found out selling a stolen firearm is punishable by 10 to 20 years in Rhode Island. I wrote the judge a letter telling him anything less than 10 years is unconscionable because that’s what the law states. The criminal has been in jail since 2007. If I didn’t write that letter, the judge would have given him one year.
Fast forward to 2009. I had to fly out of Providence again for a weekend. I wasn’t taking any guns with me. I checked in to receive my boarding pass. I gave the person my flight information and my driver’s license. She looked up my name and give me my driver’s license back. As I was putting my license away, she asked if she could see my driver’s license again. I happily obliged.
She checked my name on her computer again. I asked if everything was OK. She said what my name was on the “no-fly list”. Then she slid me my boarding pass and my driver’s license and said “have a nice flight”.
Somehow my name got on the no-fly list and I was still able to fly.
I also got through the metal detector with a small pocket knife that was on my gun key chain. I had a metal fork for my salad and a kubaton. This happened just after I found out I was on the no-fly list. By the way…I had these on the flight home, too.
Two days later on the return flight, I went to check in. The counter worker said I should use the kiosk to self check in. After a few unsuccessful attempts to sign in that way, she came over to see what was going on. I told her that two days before I was on the no-fly list. She asked to see my driver’s license. We went back to her computer, she printed out my boarding pass and again told me “have a nice flight”.
I don’t know how my name got on that list. I can only assume that since I traveled with firearms two years before and my firearms were stolen I ended up on that list. Other than that, there was nothing that I was doing that could have gotten me on the no-fly list.
I have flown since then and I haven’t had any issues.
The thing about the no-fly list is that people can end up on it arbitrarily. They can be taken off of it arbitrarily. No one knows how to get on the list. No one know how to get off the list. The other thing is I can give them a false name and a false driver’s license.
I don’t see how the no-fly list is going to stop people from purchasing firearms. Or even from getting on airplanes. Criminals and terrorists don’t buy firearm legally. They steal them from victims…like me.
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