Your Costco card will get you on an airplane. But your gun license, which presumably requires a more rigorous background check than getting access to a big box store, will get you a ticket to nowhere.
Proposed legislation in Congress would add firearms permits to the forms of identification valid at airports — a list that includes border crossing cards, green cards, Canadian provincial driver’s licenses and even sometimes, Costco cards.
The Transportation Security Administration, which screens passengers at American airports, requires a valid ID to board airlines. In addition to driver’s licenses and passports, the agency’s website lists a dozen other forms of acceptable ID. But it specifically excludes state-issued weapons permits.
If passengers do not have one of the accepted forms of ID, security agents have the discretion to allow passengers other ways to prove their identity.
Erica Ho, editor-in-chief of the travel blog maphappy.com, wrote in September that she lost her license just before a flight to Chicago. She wrote that she presented a TSA agent at Los Angeles International Airport with her photo ID from Costco. The worker sent her to another officer, who looked at the card and conducted a pat-down.
“Then she sent me on my way,” Ho wrote. “Man, I should really send Costco a thank you card.”
Reps. Diane Black, R-Tenn., and Bill Flores, R-Texas, this month sponsored the legislation that would grant weapons-permit holders the same status as other government-issued IDs.
“It is mind-boggling that the TSA has reportedly accepted Costco membership cards at airport screenings, yet its website expressly prohibits the use of handgun carry permits.”
“We all understand the need for stringent security standards at our nation’s airports, but there must also be a place for common sense,” Black said in a prepared statement. “It is mind-boggling that the TSA has reportedly accepted Costco membership cards at airport screenings, yet its website expressly prohibits the use of handgun carry permits. Why the double standard?”
Black pointed out that handgun licenses are government-issued identification.
Black and Flores noted that their bill comes just before the start of holiday travel. Some 25 million Americans are expected to board domestic flights around Thanksgiving.
“Concealed handgun licenses contain all of the identifying information required by the TSA,” Flores said in his own prepared statement. “It is time they recognize these licenses as acceptable forms of identification. The Nondiscriminatory Transportation Screening Act provides a common sense approach for the TSA to update its policies on permissible verifying documents.”
An aide to Black said the legislation is of particular importance to residents of American Samoa and the states of New York, New Hampshire, Minnesota and Louisiana. Driver’s licenses issued in those places do not meet the standards of the Real ID Act and will no longer be accepted for domestic flights starting next year.
Allowing a pistol permit as an alternative form of ID would provide another option for travelers in those states.