Armed Pilot's Gun Goes Missing

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Southwest Airlines and the Transportation Security Administration are investigating the disappearance of a Federal Flight Deck Officer's (FFDO's) semi-automatic pistol stowed in his luggage aboard a flight from Las Vegas to Oakland. The pilots blame the TSA's insistence that the weapons be checked in baggage, when they are deadheading, for the disappearance of the guns. Pilots say that instead of picking up their gun-laden luggage from the cargo area, as the rules state, they often find it on the carousel with the rest of the passengers' bags. TSA spokesman Nico Melendez said the flight deck officers' jurisdiction ends at the cockpit door but Sen. Wayne Allard (R-Colo.) said that's asking for trouble. "When you separate the pilot from his gun, whether you put it in a lockbox or whether you make him put it in some other area, then you lose that security," Allard said. The Airline Pilots Security Alliance took the opportunity to claim that an average of one in five airline pilots allowed to carry guns in the cockpit has lost his or her gun in the last two months. "In the last 60 days, we believe 300 weapons have been misplaced," Dean Roberts, spokesman for the Airline Pilots Security Alliance, told Denver's 9News.com. Specific cases accounting for all 300 of those alleged losses were not listed. The TSA has not confirmed the number of lost guns but will investigate them. "Obviously, something might be wrong with the program," said the TSA's Melendez. Although the TSA will not confirm it, there are believed to be about 1,500 FFDOs.