While traveling to California and back, I was certainly glad that, for whatever reason, the TSA did not ask my family to undergo the scary full body screening. I was apprehensive about being asked to choose to do either that or go through a rather unpleasant pat down that some people have characterized as feeling like being molested. I have always wondered how efficient the TSA really is at actually catching people who are up to no good, and when I found out about a gentleman who somehow made it past the TSA and flew without either a valid ticket or a passport, I really had to wonder. It therefore made me raise an eyebrow when I read about the case of Tam Nguyen, who was imprisoned because he brought a handgun to the airport — albeit not intentionally.
“I would love to get this story out in The Bee so people don’t think I’m a stupid terrorist,” said Nguyen. “I’m not that stupid that I would go to the airport knowing I have a gun in my backpack.” Nguyen said the .22-caliber handgun belonged to his wife’s cousin. He used to go target shooting with the cousin. Since then, the gun has been stored in the bottom of the backpack for safe-keeping, he said. He grabbed the backpack on Thursday and stuffed it with socks, underwear and other travel needs for an Fourth of July holiday trip to visit a friend in Mississippi.
There are two possibilities that can be entertained here. Either the truth is being told and the gentleman really had no intent to bring the gun with him to the airport, or he somehow thought that he could sneak the gun past security and into the plane. From that second possibility, there are two sub-possibilities — he could have been trying to take the gun with him for recreational purposes and forgot to apply for a permit to carry in a reasonable time frame or he could have been trying to get it on the plane for the purpose of doing something like hijacking the plane or similarly unlawful.
The one thing leading me to believe that Nguyen is innocent of wrongdoing is that no person genuinely trying to get a gun on a plane for malicious purposes would do so by just shoving it in the bottom of a backpack. They would be acting not alone but with a team of associates who would get it sewed into the lining, encased in something undetectable, or the gun would be made of a different material. No real terrorist thinks they are going to get away with a gun in a backpack — it just wouldn’t happen.
And so, while people continue to sneak onto planes without tickets and law abiding travelers get groped an irradiated, a most likely innocent man sits in a jail with no defense other than good old fashioned forgetfulness.