Egyptian Customs officials arrested a man today who had arrived on an Egypt Air flight from JFK with undeclared handguns in his checked bag. There have been reports that there were other weapons and ammunition as well.
Flying with checked weapons is legal in the U.S. It may be that this man was not aware that he needed to declare his weapons and he posed no threat to his fellow passengers. However, regardless of his intentions, this incident does raise some issues about airport security.
One, the man did not declare the weapons and TSA officials did not take notice of them when the bags went through security. Even if flying with checked weapons is legal, TSA officials should be aware of their presence. The fact that this man was able to get to Cairo with weapons that no one knew about is troubling.
The biggest issue though is that a man was able to walk into a crowded urban airport with a bag of weapons and no one stopped him. There is no perimeter security at U.S. airports. There are sometimes hundreds of people waiting to check their bags or go through security and it would be the simplest thing in the world to walk in and open fire or detonate a bomb, potentially killing as many people as one could if one had done so on a plane.
In Israel there are several rings of security that people pass through before they ever enter the airport. The U.S. needs to adopt similar practices because regardless of whatever new x-ray machines they are using that render us naked before the TSA screeners, there is nothing at all to stop a terrorist at the front of the airport.