Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Still Showing Up at TSA Airport Security: Guns, Knives, Bear Spray, Grenades

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Still Showing Up at TSA Airport Security: Guns, Knives, Bear Spray, Grenades

Article excerpt

For years now we've all been instructed on airliner security etiquette.

We know not to make smart remarks using the "b" word. Present our boarding pass and government-issued I.D. to no-nonsense uniformed officers of the TSA (Transportation Security Administration). Take off our shoes and pass through body scanners with a chance that our day might include a personal pat-down by a stranger.

And above all, do not bring with you anything on the no-no list, especially anything that could be seen as a potential threat. We all know that the terrorists who attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on 911 did it with simple sharp tools.

So do we all follow these simple rules meant to avert another attack? Nooo, we do not.

Here's some of what the TSA found during one recent week: 42 firearms, 74 credit card knives, inert grenades and a live smoke grenade, eight ounces of bear repellant, knives in the handles of brushes and combs, and 17 stun guns. Of the 42 firearms, 35 were loaded and nine had rounds chambered.

TSA keeps a jaunty blog reporting such finds and offering tips on how to avoid embarrassment if not prosecution.

"Sure, it's great to share the things that our officers are finding, but at the same time, each time we find a dangerous item, the line is slowed down and a passenger that likely had no ill intent ends up with a citation or in some cases is even arrested," reads the most recent blog post. "The passenger can face a penalty as high as $7,500. This is a friendly reminder to please leave these items at home. Just because we find a prohibited item on an individual does not mean they had bad intentions, that's for the law enforcement officer to decide."

For all of 2013, TSA found 1,813 firearms in carry-on bags, 1,477 of which were loaded. Firearms were intercepted at a total of 205 airports with Atlanta on top of the list for the most firearms intercepted (111).

Some examples:

- A loaded .45 caliber pistol with six rounds and one chambered was discovered strapped to the ankle of a Pittsburgh passenger during a pat-down after he had opted out of AIT (Advanced Imaging Technology).

- While resolving an alarm on checked baggage, officers at Boston Logan discovered a fully disassembled 30-30 rifle concealed within the lining of the bag and taped to the straps. …

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