Friday, 23 September 2011

Gun On Plane - Error Not Terror


Aaron Haight, a licensed owner of a Glock 22 and Baby Eagle 941, had no business boarding with his firearms and he knew it. What he couldn’t figure out was why everyone else seemed to think it was OK for his pistols to be in the cabin with him.

It's a story that starts early, 4:30am on June 14th, 2011. Aaron's sleepy, and needs to fill out a form in order to bring his firearms with him from Vancouver to Collingwood, Ont. for a shooting competition.

The RCMP has given him permission to travel with the weapons; he asks the Air Canada customer service agent for the form. The white paper he's handed doesn't look familiar, but he's told to fill it out. So he does.
Not once was he asked for a badge. Not once did he say he was a police officer. Nonetheless he's given police paperwork, on which he indicates the RCMP has authorized the travel. Those four little letters were enough to have him arrested upon landing in Toronto.

We can debate back and forth about whether he made a mistake. There's not much question that he shouldn't have filled out that form. But as a passenger who might have been travelling on board that plane, it's a comforting thought to know such mistakes get caught, either by the airline or the Canadian Airline Transportation Safety Authority. Prepare to get uncomfortable.

When Aaron told security he didn't have a badge, they accepted his gun licence. When he questioned whether it wouldn't be a problem to bring the guns on board he was told to hand the case to the flight attendant. Only in-flight and unable to produce a badge he never claimed to have, did the pilot sound the alarm.

When I asked the Peel Regional Police officers about the file they were adamant -- Aaron did nothing illegal. Three hours after they arrested him, he was cleared of all charges -- after the police watched video surveillance from YVR. They concluded Aaron never did anything to give the impression he was a peace officer; that he should never have been given that form. What's more, CATSA and Air Canada both acknowledge it happened and have made changes in hopes it doesn't happen again… as someone who travels from time to time I sure hope so too. And that if a mistake like that ever happens again, that it happens to someone like Aaron. Someone who has no intention of harming anyone, who has a great respect for firearms and who was willing to tell me the story of how his Glock 22 got on board.
The Canadian Tactical training Academy (CTTA) is a for-profit educational institution devoted to worldwide training of peace and law enforcement officers, as well as all other professionals involved in the fields of security, investigation, protection and the maintenance of order.

The Academy also provides tailored security and safety oriented civilian training at both the individual and corporate levels.

CTTA courses include Counter-Terrorism seminars, Airport and Airline Security, Physical Security and Protection of Infrastructure, among others.

CTTA Homepage         Twitter      Facebook         Google +1      LinkedIn        Youtube