What happens when you drive up to a security checkpoint at a secure facility only to realize you’ve (quote accidentally) arrived bearing an arsenal?
I had an appointment at what most would consider to be a “secure” facility earlier this week; a client of mine that shall remain nameless for the sake of embarrassment. Usually I drive up to the parking deck where the mall customers park, enter through the lobby, and navigate my way up the 30+ floors to meet with the customer. This time however, I was actually there with my team to perform an installation and the parking deck wasn’t exactly the easiest way to get our gear up to where it needed to be. I asked for, and was granted, access to the loading dock area for the duration of the project. Great, right? Awesome… whew! (I was not looking forward to having my guys haul thousands of pounds of wire, tools, ladders, carts, and gear through the lobby of this very impressive facility, mainly because it involved long convoluted pathways to get where we needed to go and going that way would necessitate a lot of trips back and forth.)
Before getting off the phone, the client informed me “You’ll need to pass building security at the loading gate. Will that be ok?”
“Sure,” I said, and immediately began wondering if that was true. Some of you know (and some of you don’t) I’m also a firearms instructor. In addition to loading up the trucks for this project, I had also loaded up for another meeting as well.I’ve been teaching Concealed Carry and Pistol Safety courses at the academy and all the gear goes in the same truck most of the time. Since I was going direct from this site to another I didn’t want to have to return the hour and a half back home to reload between locations.
Imagine my surprise when I pull under the building of this structure’s loading dock only to find a fairly impressive security system in place. Vehicle dams to stop runaway trucks from blasting through security, locking platforms to trap unauthorized vehicles from leaving, and guards with under-body mirrors to examine the vehicle were all evident and on display. Admittedly I was a little nervous. Sure, I’m a completely harmless guy and I’m there with honest intentions, but I was quite literally carrying an arsenal into the underbelly of a fairly high-dollar, tourist-festooned place. (I didn’t know the loading docks were underground or I would have planned differently.)
I removed my pistol from my hip, put it in the center console (cause I certainly didn’t have anywhere else to put it) and waited with nervous anticipation. I told my coworker to notify the other vehicle we were driving, and to tell him to put his firearm in the glove box if he were carrying that day. (Both of them are US soldiers with the National Guard and it’s a fair assumption they’re armed most of the time.) Crossing my fingers, we waited. At the request of the guard, when it was my turn to be inspected, I turned off the engine, opened my hood, opened my tool boxes, and waited for him to complete his inspection of the vehicle before allowing it to enter the premises.
Forty-five seconds later, after being sure there were no explosives mounted under the vehicle or in the engine compartment, we were passed on through, waived past the next security gate, and allowed to park and enter the building.
Only after I cleared security did I breathe a sigh of relief. After all, I’m completely legally licensed to own all my firearms and other related gear and the reason I have it on me makes perfect sense (to me at least), but still – the idea of explaining WHY I was carrying fully a tactically-outfitted AR-15, six high-capacity magazines of military penetrator rounds, 2 pistols, various assorted magazines, a bullet-proof vest, and a five gallon can of gasoline strapped to the truck’s bed rail. Literally, without exaggeration, that’s exactly what was in the cab of the truck when we pulled into the guard station. I was already planning what I’d say… “Hey, can you just hold this here until I leave the premises? hmm.. no…
As we drove down the ramp to enter the underground loading facility, the complete inconceivability of the situation hit me. We literally just parked in underground loading area of a “secure” national company’s main offices in a vehicle with 5 gallons of highly explosive gasoline in a military jerrycan and enough armaments to probably wound or terminate two hundred people. Just to make matters worse, I wasn’t sure where the security shack was for me to get my access badge, so when someone walked out of the loading dock’s secured area, I just stepped in before the doors closed, walked down to security, pressed the buzzer, and said “Hey, where do I go to get my badge?” The gentleman behind the buzzer told me and we proceeded back to get them. However, at that point I was undocumented, inside the facility, and within walking distance of a lobby full of hundreds of people.
Now truthfully, anyone could be within walking distance of hundreds of people with explosives and firearms. It happens every day unfortunately. However, had I walked in the front door with all that mess, I’m sure klaxons would have sounded, security would have rushed us, the police would have been called, and I’d have been on a myriad of security cameras for investigative purposes, and minutes later plastered on CNN (again). But that’s not what happened… what happened was that we strolled RIGHT past security, the security people who are there SPECIFICALLY to look out for bombs in cars, weapons, explosives, etc. I went right through their screening checkpoint, AND their secondary checkpoint and gained access to the facility with all that armament within arms reach. Nothing was hidden. Nothing wasn’t in plain sight inside the cab of the vehicle. My coworker and I even commented on the fact that, upon closer inspection, there was crap everywhere in the cab. We’d been shooting recently and there was a full magazine for my .45 in the phone-holder hanging off the dashboard, another full magazine for the .45 in the driver-side door panel, a 30-round magazine staring the security guard RIGHT in the face when I opened the toolbox on the driver side. I mean; had I been the security guard, I’d have backed up, ran like hell, and told the person in the shack to get the friggin FBI down there right quick and in a hurry!
I say all this to say two things:
1) That was a harrowing 45 seconds; sitting there waiting to have to try to explain why I had all that stuff in my vehicle. The phrase “You see, I’m a firearms instructor and…” didn’t seem like it would be enough if I was the guard responsible for that building.
2) We really need to examine building security standards for “protected” facilities. Dang! I’m a good guy – I really am. I’d never go out of my way to hurt another human being, and usually go out of my way to spare someone hurt even if it means hurting myself instead. BUT… not everyone out there is a good guy, and a NOT-so-good guy could have turned that day into a national media frenzy.
Note: To be clear, NOTHING ever left the vehicle. The AR-15 stayed in the back seat. The pistols stayed in the console of the truck, etc. I had absolutely NO intention of even thinking about anything nefarious. It wasn’t until my client informed me I’d have to pass “Security screening” on the way in that the thought even occurred to me. So, no, don’t call or email me wondering why I was carrying all this mess into a financial institution’s main office complex. That wasn’t the plan when I left home that morning.
To make it simple, and to avoid confusion:
- I was carrying my pistol because I always carry my pistol.
- I was carrying my other pistol because it stays in my laptop bag and let’s be honest… if you ever need to draw one, you’re much better off if you can tell your buddy to grab the other one.
- I was carrying my AR because after leaving this site I was headed to another state to meet some people and we are all firearm enthusiasts and you never know when you’ll have an opportunity to hit the range and do some shooting.
- I was carrying my Type III ballistic vest because I teach people how to shoot and I don’t want to take one in the chest while instructing a little old lady on the proper placement of the business end of the hand cannon her grandson bought for her! (A friend of mine got shot in the chest that way… so now it never leaves my truck.)
- I was carrying the gas can because there was a snowstorm going on and I’m smart enough never to be caught on the road without enough fuel. Having a portable can allows me to help out a fellow traveler if they ran out of fuel on the the interstate or some ice-covered back road, or help myself out of my gas-guzzling V8 has to sit in traffic for 6 hours. ( I was just raised that way… you carry a little extra food, water, fuel, chains, and tow ropes EVERYWHERE when you travel – not to mention I’d just driven through that same storm 24 hours earlier, the one that locked down Atlanta, in the middle of the night and had a 122 mile drive home through it at 1 in the morning. I REALLY wanted to be prepared in case it was just as bad that night.)
So…. that was my day the other day. Of course, on a political side-note, the article could read “Team of armed men enter secure offices… and then work… and then leave.. and nothing happened today,” which would just serve to make the point that not everyone with a firearm (yes, even a fire-breathing, 8 million round per second AR-15 “assault rifle”) is out to hurt anyone. lol
PS: If you didn’t get the humor in the last sentence, you’re vastly too liberal to be reading my blog. Please go elsewhere and refrain from visiting again.