A traveler carried a firearm on board his flight from Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport to Tokyo Narita International Airport earlier this month.
Transportation Security Administration (TSA) acknowledged that the incident occurred on Jan. 2, saying in a statement to The Hill that it “determined standard procedures were not followed and a passenger did in fact pass through a standard screening TSA checkpoint with a firearm at” at the Atlanta airport.
Delta Airlines told CNN that “upon the customer’s disclosure, the airline reported the incident to the TSA.”
The event occurred about two weeks into a government shutdown, which has forced thousands of federal employees, including TSA workers, to work without paychecks.
The shutdown, which began on Dec. 22, was triggered after Republican and Democratic lawmakers could not come to an agreement on a new Congressional spending bill. President TrumpDonald John TrumpLanny Davis: Trump views Cohen as ‘greatest threat to his presidency’ House Oversight chairman accuses Trump of making ‘a lot of money’ off presidency Trump references ‘Wounded Knee’ in tweet mocking Warren MORE has demanded that funds for a new wall along the southern border be included in it, which Democrats oppose.
Hydrick Thomas, the TSA council president for the American Federation of Government Employees, said last week that the shutdown has led to TSA workers quitting, prompting concerns about staffing and security at airports.
But TSA said that it would be false to tie the shutdown to the breach in security.
“There was not a staffing issue as some are speculating or alluding to in their articles,” TSA said. “In fact, the national callout percentages were exactly the same for Wed, 1/2/19 and Wed, 1/3/18 (when there was no shutdown) — 5 percent.”
The agency said that the passenger was met by authorities in Japan upon landing. It added that it “will hold those responsible appropriately accountable.”
Michael Bilello, TSA assistant administrator for public affairs, said on Twitter Sunday that “security standards remain uncompromised at our nation’s airports.”
CNN noted that TSA has shown struggles to detect weapons in screening in the past. The acting administrator for the agency was reassigned in 2015 after a report discovered that screeners didn’t detect explosives and weapons in nearly every test undercover team conducted.
UPDATED 11:04 P.M.