This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Jason Chaffetz and Curt Oda, in an article titled "Too many undeclared guns at the airport," (Opinion, May 22) seem puzzled as to why people would try to smuggle guns, many of them loaded, onto airplanes. They claim that it could not be ignorance, since "no one can credibly claim ignorance of the law against carrying guns on airplanes."
If people are not ignorant of the law, then why would they do it?
Unfortunately, Chaffetz and Oda do not offer any explanations other than labeling the gun smugglers as "irresponsible." Surely it is more complicated than that. In an attempt to be helpful, I offer some possibilities. They could be:
Lazy: Any serious effort to keep track of their guns or fill out forms is too much of an effort.
Forgetful: "Ooops, so that's where I left my loaded gun!"
Careless: They are in the habit of leaving things lying around.
Thoughtless: Putting other people at risk doesn't seem to matter to them.
Suicidal: They are thinking of killing themselves, but are afraid of trying it. "Maybe a U.S. marshal will shoot me on the plane."
Narcissistic: The law is irrelevant since it's all about "me, me, me."
Macho: They believe that they are stronger, bigger and better than anyone else, and so "By God, no one is going to tell me what I can or can't do."
Suffering delusions of grandeur: They see themselves as superior to everyone and so have special rights no one else enjoys, especially the right to carry a gun anywhere.
Super responsible: If the government won't take out the "bad guys," then I will.
Claiming personal exceptions: "Well, I understand the law, but I am an exception."
Terrorists: Smuggling guns aboard an airplane is part of a plot to attack the United States
Anarchists: They reject all government and its laws.
Paranoid: The world is full of "bad guys" who are out to get them so they need their guns at all times.
In the grip of a Savior Complex: "The bad guys are everywhere and so defenseless people are going to need help. We're the only ones who can save them."
Assassins: They have a contract on someone in Miami and so need to take their gun with them. "Hey, it's a job!"
Playful: They think it's fun to see if they can fool the TSA and slip a gun aboard.
Misguided constitutionalists: They insist that the Second Amendment is absolute and therefore the government cannot prohibit guns anywhere.
Sociopaths: They lack a conscience, and so what happens to others is of no concern whatsoever to them.
Since Chafetz and Oda insist that ignorance of the law cannot be the reason for such stupid behavior, then what could it be? Laziness, forgetfulness, paranoia, anarchy, suicidal wishes, machismo, super responsible, narcissism, delusions of grandeur, sociopathy, Savior Complex, terrorism? No one can know for sure.
What is clear is that there are too many guns available, they are too easy to get, and the wrong people have them, including many licensed gun owners.
Oda and Chaffetz insist that there are already enough laws on the books but "people just aren't paying adequate attention to them." Yet they support the NRA in refusing to make sure the government has the tools and resources that it needs to enforce them.
Since some people will bring guns to the airport no matter what, then "Thank God for the government!" Let's support it with all the tools and resources it needs to deal with our serious gun problems.
Joseph C. Bentley is professor emeritus of Management and Organizational Behavior at the University of Utah.