Singer Rick Derringer Arrested With Gun at Security, Doesn’t Understand Why That’s a Problem

Guitarist and singer Rick Derringer has worked with Steely Dan and Weird Al. He’s a Grammy winner, and sang the 1964 number one hit “Hang on Sloopy” by The McCoys. He wrote the wrestling entrance song Hulk Hogan.

But perhaps he’ll now be best remembered for getting caught traveling with a firearm as Jeff Martin reports, and asking: Was that wrong? I do it all the time and nobody told me.

Rock guitarist Rick Derringer told a federal air marshal that he keeps his gun with him on commercial airline flights 30 to 50 times a year, and was only detained last month at Atlanta’s airport near the end of a trip to Mexico, authorities said.

Found with a loaded gun in his carry-on bag after stepping off a Delta Air Lines flight from Cancun, Mexico, he now faces a criminal charge in Atlanta, court records show.

He claims a gun in his carry on “has never posed a problem” which makes sense since the TSA misses most contraband sent through the checkpoint.

However he didn’t just think he was getting away with it, “he thought that it was acceptable to carry a pistol on an airplane.”

Derringer was carrying:

  • A Kel-Tec pistol with six rounds of ammunition
  • A separate gun clip with six rounds

He had flown internationally with his gun, which he thought he was allowed to do because of his Florida gun permit. He was connecting in Atlanta to Sarasota and going through security there where his gun clip (but not the gun itself, apparently) was caught by crack TSA agents manning the x-ray.

The gun clip was only enough to get Derringer’s carry on bag re-screened. They again saw the clip and ammo. Law enforcement responded, and only then was the loaded gun discovered.

Since he flew out of the Sarasota airport, and says he did so with his gun, the airport says the screener who cleared his bag has been found and fired. That’s only possible because there are private screeners in Sarasota. Actual employees of the TSA have been accused of misconduct over 20,000 times, about half of the employees more than once and generally little discipline occurs.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Firing a screener for missing a gun is an answer but not the best way to improve the system. Just firing someone may cover up the real reason the gun was missed. Training, supervision, equipment malfunctions/deficiencies and other factors may be involved too. Finding a scapegoat is a lot easier. But then you must hire and train someone else who is just as likely to make the same mistake.

  2. Most likely a proud deplorable on a business trip to Mexico to ascertain the wall building planning.

  3. Did he also have $21.6 billion in his bag along with a card addressed to Easy D from Enrique Peña Nieto?

  4. What makes me crazy about this, if he really has been able to carry on a gun for all these years without TSA seeing it, is why to I get searched, here and overseas, when they spot my large nail clippers( they took then away in Japan) Make no sense.

  5. Tolerance…

    I vaguely remember the meaning of this word, but wasn’t it retired 8 years ago by the opposition when Pres. Obama took office?

    And officially abolished now by executive order.

  6. Seriously what the hell are we going through all that security for if they aren’t catching people with guns? I get flagged if I forgot to take a water bottle out of my bag! Also, how stupid do you have to be to not understand the basic concept that you are not allowed to carry guns on to a plane. People should get triple the prison time for being too stupid to be in public if they somehow thought this was acceptable.

  7. One thing I wonder about, and this is the exact language from the court records: When Derringer’s bag came through the x-ray in Atlanta, screener noticed that the bag “appeared to have a gun clip with bullets.” Seeing the ammunition, she calls a supervisor. Then, during a 2nd x-ray, they “again noticed a weapon magazine and bullets.” A physical search then turned up the handgun. But my question is: wouldn’t the screener have seen the outline of the entire gun right away, said the bag appeared to have a pistol inside. Instead, it seems as if they saw clip/magazine with bullets, but didn’t really see the gun on 2 passes through x-rays ??

  8. There should have NEVER been any issue at all with having a gun on one’s person while flying (domestically).

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