Re: Way to Go Jere
Rodger Morris (rodger@FISHNET.NET)
Wed, 30 Apr 1997 19:50:19 -0700
I have seen much heated debate in re the matter of Jere Ratliffe
allegedly carrying a loaded handgun in his carry-on luggage into
an airport in violation of federal law. Much of it strikes me as
being engendered in the smug and self-righteous cocksureness
conferred by a liberal helping of ignorance.
Let me offer a somewhat different perspective on this situation:
In 1980, when I was a U.S. Navy Ensign going through advanced flight
training, I came off a training flight and had to catch a commercial
flight to go home. I was running _very_ late and I had to hurry. So, I
drove immediately to the airport whilst still in my flight suit and
checked in, then sought out a restroom to quickly change into civilian
attire, as the flight was about to start boarding. I wadded up my
flight suit and stuffed it into the "getaway bag" that I had carried
with me on the navigation training hop and then hurried to board the
aircraft. This bag was my carry-on luggage.
I really needed to catch that particular flight, so as to be a
pallbearer at the funeral of one of my former Boy Scouts who had died
of cancer at age 19. I was focussed on keeping that commitment to
the exclusion of all else.
When I put my getaway bag through the fluoroscope at the boarding
area, an alert security person spotted an anomalous object in my bag.
He asked me to open the bag, which I did. The object in question
proved to be the combination switchblade knife and parachute shroud
cutter which was standard aircrew survival gear issue. For those who are
unfamiliar with this device, it is secured to the flight suit with
thin nylon cord and it is a spring-loaded switchblade because the
aircrewman may well need to wield it one-handed owing to injury or
I had tucked it in the narrow, sewn-in pocket provided for it on my
flight suit and it never crossed my mind that this item would violate
federal law regarding carrying weapons on board an airliner.Indeed, it
was such a normal part of my flying gear that it never crossed my
mind that I needed to pull it out of my flight suit and give it to
one of my classmates for safekeeping before I ran out and jumped into
my car to get to the airport.
Now, carrying a switchblade knife on board an airliner was a clear
violation of federal law. I knew about the law. I just plain forgot
that I had the thing with me.
This was a classic, "Oh sh*t! Oh dear!!" situation, in the Navy slang
of the day.
Fortunately for me, the security supervisor exercised a little
discretion and common sense and allowed me to surrender the knife
to him. He in turn conveyed it to the aircrew to be carried by the
aircrew in the cockpit along with my officer's ceremonial sword which
I _had_ checked in at the time I checked in my baggage, and to be
returned to me at the conclusion of the flight.
Okay, folks. I committed a federal felony. Should I have resigned my
commission as an officer in the U.S. Navy? Should I now resign my
position as an Assistant Scoutmaster in the Boy Scouts of America?
Should I now be forcibly retired in disgrace from the BSA as some have
demanded of Jere Ratliffe?
I think not.....
So, from personal experience, I respectfully submit that it is indeed
possible for one to inadvertantly commit the third degree felony
with which Jere Ratliffe is allegedly charged. This is corroborated
by the law enforcement officer's remark which was quoted by the news
media in re the frequency with which this particular felony is committed
as an act of inadvertance or omission.
>From my experience on SCOUTS-L, I am quite certain that there are
indeed a few individuals here who are without sin and who will be quite
happy to cast the first stone at me or to flame me for committing a
criminal act. That's okay. "Sticks and stones...", yada, yada, yada.
Also, I've still got my nomex flame retardent underwear from my military
Cast away. Flame away.
Yours in Scouting,
Rodger Morris <email@example.com>
Asst. Scoutmaster, Troop 808 Wood Badge 416-18
Ventura County Council at Philmont, 1973
Camarillo, California, USA "I used to be a Beaver..."
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City