By Diane Black
If you have followed the news headlines lately, you know that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) – the bureaucracy responsible for ensuring the safety of our nation’s travelers – has seen better days. An internal investigation released in June found that the TSA had a stunning 96 percent failure rate in detecting weapons and fake explosives. More recently, a report from “The Today Show” revealed that NBC producers were able to pass airport security with Swiss army knives and box cutters in tow. Comforting, huh?
While knives and weapons may make it past airport security all too often, your handgun carry permit – a government-issued form of identification – will not. I speak from personal experience. On a recent flight from Nashville to Washington, I approached the TSA counter only to realize my drivers’ license was tucked away in a pocket of my jeans at home. Unfazed, I pulled out my handgun carry permit to identify myself to the agent. The card bears my picture, my full legal name, my date of birth, and a hologram with the state seal.
Further, as any firearm owner knows, the process of obtaining your handgun license is significantly more involved than obtaining a drivers’ license. It requires completion of a safety course, a fingerprint, and a thorough background check. If that’s good enough to carry a weapon, then surely it is sufficient as a form of identification to board a plane, right?
Wrong. As I handed over my permit, I was met with a look of immediate disapproval. The TSA agent informed me that handgun licenses are banned as a form of identification. After a moment of panic, I showed the agent my Congressional voting card and boarded my flight, but I vowed to do my research on the subject upon returning to Washington.
As it turns out, the TSA agent was correct. Their website explicitly states that “A weapon permit is not an acceptable form of identification” so I decided to determine what is allowed under TSA standards. According to federal law, the criteria for a “verifying identity document” is “an unexpired document issued by a U.S Federal, State, or tribal government” that includes your full name, date of birth, and photograph … In other words, everything that is on my handgun carry permit. Compounding my frustration were the reports earlier this year that TSA was accepting Costco membership cards as a form of identification. Double standard much?
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