Two weeks into the government shutdown, TSA let a passenger bring a gun onto a Tokyo-bound flight

On January 3, a passenger boarded a Tokyo-bound flight while carrying a firearm. According to a statement from the TSA, the mishap happened because “standard procedures were not followed.” The passenger boarded at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and flew to Tokyo Narita International Airport.

“TSA has determined standard procedures were not followed and a passenger did in fact pass through a standard screening TSA checkpoint with a firearm at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on the morning of January 3,” TSA’s statement read.

Speaking to CNN, Delta Airlines said it was the passenger who ultimately informed officials about the firearm.

Most outlets reporting on the story made sure to mention that the incident happened two weeks into the government shutdown, which has forced TSA employees to work without receiving paychecks. Around 51,000 TSA employees are among the roughly 800,000 federal workers who are working without pay or are furloughed as a result of the shutdown.

Last week, TSA Council on the American Federation of Government Employees president Hydrick Thomas said that the shutdown has led to workers quitting and calling in sick.

“Every day I’m getting calls from my members about their extreme financial hardships and need for a paycheck. Some of them have already quit and many are considering quitting the federal workforce because of this shutdown,” Thomas said in a statement posted to the AFGE website on Tuesday.

But TSA said that the mishap had nothing to do with the strains the shutdown has caused.

“The perception that this might have occurred as a result of the partial government shutdown would be false,” TSA told CNN. “The national unscheduled absence rate of TSA staff on Thursday, January 3, 2019, was 4.8% compared to 6.3% last year, Thursday, January 4, 2018. So in fact, the national call out rate was higher a year ago than this year on that date.”

TSA added that it would hold those responsible “appropriately accountable.”

Despite TSA’s denials, many on social media insisted that the incident was an example of the threat a government shutdown poses to the effectiveness of important federal agencies.

As CNN points out, this isn’t the first time, shutdown or not, that weapons have passed through TSA’s screening procedures. In 2015, the acting administrator for the agency was reassigned after it was discovered that screeners didn’t detect explosives and weapons during tests conducted by undercover teams.

Featured image via screen grab/CBS Evening News

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