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Union Leader: TSA Concealing from Public Discoveries Like Bags with Explosives

WASHINGTON -- A Transportation Security Administration union leader said today that the flying public is in the dark about many safety incidents across the county, and TSA officers aren't being briefed about dangerous situations at other airports.

"The threat against this country is for real," said Hydrick Thomas, TSA Council 100 president and American Federation of Government Employees Local 2222 president, John F. Kennedy International Airport, during an AFGE press roundtable to discuss staffing, pay and morale issues as the White House released its $4.4 trillion budget proposal.

The retired Marine and police officer who joined TSA because of the Sept. 11, 2001, al-Qaeda attacks charged that the agency is "putting every employee at risk [as well as] the flying public" through management.

"Things happen at other airports; they don't brief you on it," Thomas said. "...Incidents happen across the country that they don't post."

That includes, he said, bags left in airport areas containing explosives that could detonate. "They keep that hidden from the public when they can," said the union leader.

Thomas stressed how TSA officers find guns in bags "all the time" and that an assailant could quickly withdraw a weapon and begin firing before he or she could be stopped.

The TSA said that 2017 broke the record for the number of guns found in carry-on bags: 3,957, averaging out to more than 10 firearms per day. Eighty-four percent of those guns were loaded, and more than a third had a round in the chamber.

The greatest concentration of discovered carry-on guns was 31 in August 2017 alone at Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Guns were found by TSA officers at 239 airports across the country.