Font Size:Default font sizeLarger font sizeShare6BOZEMAN - The Transportation Security Administration said Wednesday that screeners at Gallatin Field near Bozeman inadvertently allowed a passenger with a firearm in his carryon luggage through security last month.
The unidentified man realized he had the gun when he was in the boarding area Dec. 13 and turned himself into TSA officials.
Gallatin Field Board Chairman Dick Roehm said the TSA re-screened every passenger at the airport, including those on a Horizon Air flight that had left the gate but had not yet taken off - delaying three flights for more than an hour.
The gun was turned over to local law enforcement and the passenger was allowed to continue on the flight, TSA spokesman Dwayne Baird said in a written statement.
Roehm said the incident is raising the prospect of turning to a private company to handle security at the airport.
"If those guys can't detect a handgun, which is pretty basic, not some exotic explosive sewn to your underpants, then we get upset," he said, referring to the botched attempt by a 23-year-old Nigerian man who allegedly tried to blow up a U.S. airliner on Christmas Day.
Several other Montana airports, including those in Butte, Missoula and Kalispell, are looking into hiring private firms to handle security instead of the TSA. Airport officials cite inefficiencies that come with working with a government bureaucracy.
Meanwhile, Gallatin Field's airport director, Brian Sprenger, said Wednesday he wants to see how private security works at other airports in the state before implementing anything at Gallatin Field.
"It's something that we would watch closely to see how effective it is," he said. "Our biggest concern is a safe environment for our traveling public."