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TSA Week in Review: Disassembled Gun and Ammo Found in Three Stuffed Animals

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Friday, May 11, 2012
Officers (LEOs) were called to the checkpoint and after searching the bag, they discovered a disassembled weapon hidden in three of the child’s stuffed animals. The main frame of a .40 caliber firearm was in one animal. A magazine loaded with two .40 caliber rounds and firing pin was inside another. The slide was inside third stuffed animal. All of the necessary components to assemble a fully functional loaded firearm were artfully concealed in the three stuffed animals.

Disassembled Gun and Ammo Found in Three Stuffed Animals - TSA Officers at Providence TF Green Airport (PVD) noticed what appeared to be a disassembled firearm on the X-ray screen of baggage belonging to a father and his small child. Law Enforcement Officers (LEOs) were called to the checkpoint and after searching the bag, they discovered a disassembled weapon hidden in three of the child’s stuffed animals. The main frame of a .40 caliber firearm was in one animal. A magazine loaded with two .40 caliber rounds and firing pin was inside another. The slide was inside third stuffed animal. All of the necessary components to assemble a fully functional loaded firearm were artfully concealed in the three stuffed animals. This is just another example that threats can appear anywhere and this is why our Officers take a closer look at everything. It’s also an example that shows that even though we’ve made changes to how we screen children 12 & under, the security process is still just as effective. Congratulations to our Officers at TF Green Airport for a great find!

Simulated semtex-h, pepper spray gun, ammunition, throwing stars, knives.

Simulated Semtex-H - Once again, an explosives training aid was discovered at a TSA checkpoint. This time it was at Fort Walton Beach (VPS) and it involved a block of simulated Semtex-H explosive. We had no way of knowing it was simulated until after we had gone through all of the motions.

Hollowed Out Book - A hollowed out book containing narcotics and drug paraphernalia was discovered at Denver (DEN). As I’ve said many times before, we’re not looking for drugs, but when we find them, we have to report them. So… please don’t bring them. It’s yet another example of how a normal everyday item can be used to conceal items.

Hollowed Out Book - A hollowed out book containing narcotics and drug paraphernalia was discovered at Denver (DEN). As I’ve said many times before, we’re not looking for drugs, but when we find them, we have to report them. So… please don’t bring them. It’s yet another example of how a normal everyday item can be used to conceal items.

Mace Gun - It looks kind of like a 1950’s era sci-fi ray gun, but officers at Newark (EWR) discovered a mace/pepper gun.

Ammo in Pocket Found With Body Scanner - TSA Officers at Baltimore (BWI) discovered 13 rounds of ammunition in the front pocket of a passenger who went through a body scanner.

People Say the Darndest Things - Here are examples of what not to say at the airport. Statements like these not only delay the people who said them but can also inconvenience lots of other passengers if the checkpoint has to be evacuated:

  • A passenger at Amarillo (AMA) stated “I have a bomb on my body” twice. As if once wasn’t enough?
  • While having his bag searched at Tucson (TUS) due to an explosive trace detection alarm, a passenger stated “Watch out for the explosives.”

Miscellaneous Prohibited Items - In addition to all of the other prohibited items we find weekly, our Officers also found firearm components, realistic replica firearms, stun guns, brass knuckles, a ginormous amount of knives, ammunition, and batons.

Firearms - Here are the firearms our Officers found in carry-on baggage since I posted last Friday.

7 loaded firearms.
8 loaded firearms.
30 firearms discovered. 29 were loaded.

You can travel with your firearms in checked baggage, but they must first be declared to the airline. You can go here for more details on how to properly travel with your firearms. Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality. Travelers should familiarize themselves with state and local firearm laws for each point of travel prior to departure.

Unfortunately these sorts of occurrences are all too frequent which is why we talk about these finds. 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 throughput is slowed down and a passenger that likely had no ill intent ends up with a citation or in some cases is even arrested. 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. In many cases, people simply forgot they had these items.

Bob Burns
TSA Blog Team

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Comments

Submitted by Anonymous on

I never would have guessed the gun in the teddy bear story would be the top catch of the week. Congratulations on finding a gun with the x-ray machine. The same x-ray machine that has been used for decades and not the expensive AIT scanners. Isn't finding guns the bare minimum of the TSA's job responsibilities? I don't issue a press release when the McDonald's worker gets my order correct.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I have a question about the drugs in the hollowed out book. You say that drugs have to be reported to the police. Why do they have to be reported? They are no threat to the aircraft, so I don't see why they would the police would need to be involved. It seems like this is a slippery slope for a possible Constitution violation.

I see the body scanner found ammo in the pocket of a passenger. You know...the metal detector would have found that too, at a lower cost and with less privacy issues.

Submitted by Insulin Pump User on

Is there going to be any comment on the story this week of the teenager who had her insulin pump damaged after being coerced into the AIT scanner? Also, she was incorrectly told my the TSO that she could not take juice through the checkpoint. I thought that was allowed for diabetics.

As a pump user who has been treated poorly by the TSA, these stories anger me.

Submitted by Jim Huggins on

And now, for Part Two of TSA Week In Review:

You Didn't Need That Life-Saving Device, Anyways: TSOs in Salt Lake City coerced a teenager into submitting to an AIT scan, destroying her $10,000 insulin pump in the process.

Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain: TSA has $184 million in unused equipment gathering dust in a warehouse in Texas ... and when Congressional investigators wanted an accounting, TSA deliberately tried to conceal the equipment from the investigators.

Submitted by Anonymous on

We have had two big stories over the last week or so, the foiled underpants bomber and the report by the EU that x-ray body scanners are safe. So what does the TSA want to discuss. Stuffed animals! Is this a joke?

Submitted by Sandra on

I wish I could say that I am astounded that you included the stuffed toy guns in this report.

Sadly, I am not.

You are so desperate to try to prove your "worth," that you included something that was a total set-up by a woman seeking revenge.

Screen shot

Submitted by Anonymous on

Who is Jon Corbett?

Screenshot.

Submitted by Anonymous on

You made the math for this one too easy, Bob! If you found 30 guns, that means that you missed about 70, right? Or, feel free to correct my calculations. Thanks.

Submitted by TSM on

Bob, Whay wasn't my comment about why this guy was allowed to fly posted?
After all, we all know that the gun parts didn't come from the factory "pre-installed" in the stuffed animals.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Given how the TSA could be facing a criminal investigation for altering documents and misleading Congress during their inspection of warehoused equipment, I wouldn't put it past them the guns in the stuffed animal find was a TSA set up. Especially since the timing of this happens to be right after that incident when TSA accused a 3-year old child of passing a gun to her grandmother. Up until that Congressional report came out, I would have believed otherwise, but as more comes out on what TSA is hiding behind their "SSI" operations, it's becoming evident that this agency is corrupt.

Submitted by Anonymous on

"Once again, an explosives training aid was discovered at a TSA checkpoint."

That's fantastic. As a matter of being open and honest with the American people so that they may get a true understanding of your effectiveness, I would love it if you would also publish how many times each week the explosives training aid are failed to be discovered.
When can I expect these statistics to be made available?

Submitted by Anonymous on

"I’ve said many times before, we’re not looking for drugs, but when we find them, we have to report them."
---------------------------------------------
You apparently fail to grasp the distinction between "Our policy is that we report them" and "we have to report them."

Submitted by Anonymous on

Anonymous said...
"I’ve said many times before, we’re not looking for drugs, but when we find them, we have to report them."
---------------------------------------------
You apparently fail to grasp the distinction between "Our policy is that we report them" and "we have to report them."

Anonymous said...
I have a question about the drugs in the hollowed out book. You say that drugs have to be reported to the police. Why do they have to be reported? They are no threat to the aircraft, so I don't see why they would the police would need to be involved. It seems like this is a slippery slope for a possible Constitution violation.

lets be real here....any federal employee must report illegal substances, or items found. It doesnt matter if they are a screener or janitor...how can you have a problem with getting drugs off our streets no matter how small?


and the pump story is bogus too...there have been a lot of users of those same pumps on TV saying they were never told they couldnt go through the scanners and have brought them through a bunch of times...lets face it she was exposed to alot more radiation including x ray radiation during her flight...it was a PR stunt by the pump maker....I know not everyone like TSA but do we really need to scratch the bottom of the barrel here?

Submitted by Anonymous on

"lets be real here....any federal employee must report illegal substances, or items found. It doesnt matter if they are a screener or janitor...how can you have a problem with getting drugs off our streets no matter how small?"

Really? Can you validate that? So any federal employee who doesn't, for example, report illegal drugs at a concert is violating what? The law? Is it a felony? Please point to the federal law that back up your point.


"and the pump story is bogus too...there have been a lot of users of those same pumps on TV saying they were never told they couldnt go through the scanners and have brought them through a bunch of times...lets face it she was exposed to alot more radiation including x ray radiation during her flight"

Once again, please have some knowledge before you comment. As has been reported here many, many times, "radiation" is not a monolithic term. The radiation to which she was exposed is not at all the type she (and the pump) would have been exposed to in flight. More likely, though, is that the magnetic field generated by the scanner was the culprit. Would you like to illuminate us with your explanation of this?

?...it was a PR stunt by the pump maker...."

How, exactly, would this benefit the pump maker? Do you have a shred of evidence that backs up your accusation? You *do* realize that making a false accusation can be a violation of Federal law? A real violation, not the pretend one you brought up.

"I know not everyone like TSA but do we really need to scratch the bottom of the barrel here?"

You mean by claiming that kids are making up stories about their insulin pumps?

The TSA does not provide security and consumes a huge amount of taxpayer money. Time to get our money's worth. I'm sorry if that puts your job in jeopardy but we're simply not going to stand for TSA's incompetence and overreach any longer.

Submitted by JoJo on

Anonymous said...

"it was a PR stunt by the pump maker..."

---

Are you kidding? You're just going to whitewash the whole incident by saying it was a PR stunt? That's become the norm, I guess. "I don't like it, so it must have been planned on purpose jut so someone could get attention."

Meanwhile you overlook the fact that no company wants to be known for a pump that can't be transported through TSA security with ease or breaks so easily, meaning this "PR" stunt would hurt them, not help them. The company that offered to donate one to replace her broken one has chosen to remain anonymous, so it can't be PR for them either. I understand critical thought doesn't come easily for some, but it's necessary to safeguard many things in life.

Submitted by Insulin Pump User on

Anonymous said...

and the pump story is bogus too...there have been a lot of users of those same pumps on TV saying they were never told they couldnt go through the scanners and have brought them through a bunch of times...lets face it she was exposed to alot more radiation including x ray radiation during her flight...it was a PR stunt by the pump maker....I know not everyone like TSA but do we really need to scratch the bottom of the barrel here?
----------------------------

I believe I wear the same model of pump that was damaged. Animas says on their website not to go through the scanners. I've emailed Animas about the scanners and received phone calls back telling me not to go through the scanners. This was a phone call and not some form letter email. Another manufacturer, Medtronics, says the same thing on their website.

Maybe the scanners rarely damage the pumps and maybe this girl was unlucky. What if the people taking their pumps through the scanners are lucky and nothing has happened yet? I'm going to listen to my pump manufacturer instead of taking medical advice from the TSA.

An insulin pump has made my life so much better. Using syringes is a real pain, especially when travelling. There is no way I'm jeopardizing my pump by going through a scanner. That means I'll likely get the enhanced patdown. It's not a good alternative, but I'll take my "resistance" being groped over potential damage to my pump anyday.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Anonymous said...

and the pump story is bogus too..

Prove it. Where's the link?

Submitted by Steve Scottsdale on

I'm profoundly curious about the motivation behind the father who tried to smuggle a handgun inside the teddy bears. What was his intent? Did he want to hijack the plane? Did he do it just to see if it could be done?

After all, the weapon could be packed in his checked baggage then declared.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Great catches! But could you please explain what role the new intrusive enhancements (i.e., irradiating strip search machines and groping patdowns) played in detecting this contraband? It looks to me like old-fashioned metal detectors and x-ray scanners should have caught all of them.

By the way, Bob, I haven't forgotten about the drug smuggling baggage screeners in Los Angeles. I'm sure that once you've finally found the perfect blend of evasion and condescension, your post that masterfully spins away this PR disaster will epitomize the propagandist's finest art. I'm looking forward to it.

Submitted by Anonymous on

As is always the case, every one of these items would have been caught in the pre-TSA era, for billions less, using simple metal detectors and xray machines.

Submitted by Anonymous on

So why do you need the body scanners again?

Submitted by Anonymous on

why is the tsa looking for guns? the cockpit doors are reenforced so guns pose no threat to the plane.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Blogger Bob said:
"All of the necessary components to assemble a fully functional loaded firearm were artfully concealed in the three stuffed animals."

Artfully concealed? Give me a break. A handgun inside a stuffed animal that's going through an X-ray machine isn't "artfully concealed". Any screener who misses something like that should be fired immediately. That's about as easy as it gets.

The "artfully concealed" stuff is the stuff you aren't finding.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Steve Scottsdale said...
"I'm profoundly curious about the motivation behind the father who tried to smuggle a handgun inside the teddy bears."

From what I've read, he didn't put them there. They were planted to get him in trouble. The new stories refer to it as a "domestic dispute".

Submitted by Wintermute on

I *knew* you'd tout the stuffed toy find on this week's post. Two problems I have with it. First, it was detected via pre-9/11 screening methods. How does this justify your agency's continued (and well-documented) wastefulness? Second, the family was still allowed to fly?! Surely a child carrying a concealed firearm in his stuffed toys is a terrorist, and should not be allowed to fly.

(While snarky, this comment follows guidelines. Screenshot taken to combat the widespread censorship on the part of the TSA)

Submitted by Anonymous on

SLC. Insulin pump.

Submitted by Anonymous on

"Ammo in Pocket Found With Body Scanner – TSA Officers at Baltimore (BWI) discovered 13 rounds of ammunition in the front pocket of a passenger who went through a body scanner. "

Is it important for potential terrorists to put their ammo in their front pockets so you can find them?? I saw some video showing someone hide their recording cell phone in a side pocket while going through the scanner.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Anonymous said...
lets be real here....any federal employee must report illegal substances, or items found. It doesnt matter if they are a screener or janitor...how can you have a problem with getting drugs off our streets no matter how small?

I'm not sure which TV series or comic book you are getting your "facts" from.

Legally speaking, a TSA Screener who finds what he thinks is drugs does not know that substance is actually a drug any more than he knows if the water bottle he confiscated was an explosive or H2O. The screener could report it to a law enforcement officer, and if the LEO, in his LEO-trained mind, reasonably suspects it to be drugs, he could could temporarily detain the passenger, but even he cannot automatically arrest and charge anyone for possesion of drugs without verifying the substance with a test kit first.

TSA does not test substances for drugs, but they do test for explosives. Any screener who reports drugs to an LEO is using personal discretion to determine what that substance is. It would be no different than any John, Jane or Jack----or some Federal Janitor---on the street using personal discretion to report someone with drugs to the local cops, with the difference being that TSA ILLEGALLY DETAINS YOU in place until that cop arrives, then personally hands you over to him rather than allow you to move on with your civil rights before reporting it. It is the perfect example of TSA's mission creep, otherwise they would be summoning LEOs for every water bottle they find since explosives are what brings down jets---not drugs.

You want to test this? Start bringing dried spices in baggies through the checkpoints and watch TSA Screeners overreact and detain you until LEOs clear you to move on un-arrested.......and you won't see that incident posted on Bob's Friday wrap-up.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Sigh.

I knew the gun in the teddy bear would be touted as a big catch. And like the previous similar incident, it will be used to justify the harassment and torment of screaming toddlers everywhere.

What TSA completely fails to point out:

Good old fashioned 1970s style x-ray of carryons would have caught this gun. So would the kid walking through a metal detector carrying the stuffed toy. The case has *nothing* to do with screening, not screening, or limited screening of children under 12. The case has nothing to do with patdowns, the nude-o-scope, or any other invasive screening method. Nobody has ever suggested letting children carry large stuffed toys through the checkpoint completely unscreened, bypassing both x-ray and metal detector.

In other words, TSA was not required to make this catch.

BTW, will TSA be sending an $11,000 kangaroo court administrative fine to the dad? How about the vindicitve mother who allegedly placed the gun? I find it ironic that the dad and kid were allowed to proceed with no penalty other than confiscating the toys, acknowledging that there was no actual or intended threat, but you still tout this as a big catch.

Submitted by Jared on

Holy crap! HENRY KISSINGER!?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Can't wait for the excuses TSA and Blogger Bob make when they try to explain patting-down Henry Kissinger and forcing him get out of his wheelchair!!!

TSA, America's joke government agency!

Submitted by Anonymous on

Wow. Thanks for saving us from the artfully concealed butter knife, blue-gloved avengers.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Anonymous said...
I have a question about the drugs in the hollowed out book. You say that drugs have to be reported to the police. Why do they have to be reported? They are no threat to the aircraft, so I don't see why they would the police would need to be involved. It seems like this is a slippery slope for a possible Constitution violation.


By your logic, if they find a severed head or my grandma's kidney they don't need to report them because they're not a threat to the aircraft. Although as far a violating the Constitution, we're already on that slope.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Anonymous said...
I have a question about the drugs in the hollowed out book. You say that drugs have to be reported to the police. Why do they have to be reported? They are no threat to the aircraft, so I don't see why they would the police would need to be involved. It seems like this is a slippery slope for a possible Constitution violation.


By your logic, if they find a severed head or my grandma's kidney they don't need to report them because they're not a threat to the aircraft. Also, the passenger submitted the book for screening. This is called implied consent. If the police ask if they can search your house without a warrant and you let them in the Constitution has not been violated because of, you guessed it, implied consent.

Next time, demand a warrant.

Submitted by Chuckii on

How many times in the last ten year has a gun been drawn on a plane!!!!!

Submitted by Chuckii on

HOW MANY TIMES IN THE LAST TEN YEARS HAS A GUN BEEN DRAWN ON A PLANE IN THE US!!!!!!

Submitted by @SkyWayManAz on

Bob does tend to selectively choose not to post some of my comments. I'm very careful not to mention names or bad words but seems like they get bounced for even tiny hints like location or an asterisk. That said I laugh at the hater comments on how guns aren't a threat on the plane, seriously? This isn't a new or in any way unreasonable policy. It's shocking people still do it in enough numbers that TSA can run this article week in and week out. Unfortunately it does make you wonder what they don't catch. Tried and true 1970's tech could easily spot these items. When I did the job pre TSA one summer in the 80's we had screeners running X-ray that read a book their whole shift instead of look at the scanner. The sad thing is I have to believe some of this stuff worked before.

Submitted by Anonymous on

@SkyWayManAz said...
"That said I laugh at the hater comments on how guns aren't a threat on the plane, seriously?"

It seems to me that it would be rather difficult to bring down an airplane with just a handgun. It's certainly a risk to the people on the plane, but they face the same risk on the ground.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I never want to fly again... I feel so violated by the new xray machines that see me naked at Burbank Airport. Why do I get strip searched just flying around in USA but when flying out of the country, this does not happen?

Submitted by @SkyWayManAz on

Anonymous there is a risk on the ground but you have way more options to flee. Onboard the plane you have to stand your ground. Anyone else want to be in the middle of that? Sorry it's not an unreasonable policy and you've always been allowed to check firearms declared in your luggage. In so many ways TSA goes beyond common sense but this isn't one of them.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Anonymous said...
"Why do I get strip searched just flying around in USA but when flying out of the country, this does not happen?"

Because the terrorists have been successful - they created terror in the American population. Many people are so afraid they are willing to go along with anything that makes them feel better. They are willing to give up their rights for some pretend security.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Wow this is real entertainment! Looks like the same disgruntled people making remarks everyday. The scanners can detect explosives smuggled on a person.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Haters gonna Hate! Bob

Submitted by Anonymous on

@SkyWayManAz said...
"Anonymous there is a risk on the ground but you have way more options to flee. Onboard the plane you have to stand your ground."

Ever ride in an elevator?

Really think you can out-run a bullet?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Anonymous said...
"The scanners can detect explosives smuggled on a person."

Sometimes - kind of.

The scanners aren't explosive detectors, they detect materials and shapes. A smart person can get explosives past the scanners.

Submitted by Wintermute on

Annonymous said...

"It seems to me that it would be rather difficult to bring down an airplane with just a handgun. It's certainly a risk to the people on the plane, but they face the same risk on the ground."

Now, I generally have problems with the TSA, but this is not one of them. My problem with the handgun-via-stuffed-toys story is that it was caught using pre-TSA methods, yet the TSA trouts it out like some huge find, justifying their virtual strip-searched and invasive pat-downs. It was found by neither. But the damage a handgun could cause could, I'm sure, cause the cabin to depressurize. Or maybe, life Blogger Bob in a previous post, I've been watching too many movies ;)

Submitted by RB on

Anonymous said...
Wow this is real entertainment! Looks like the same disgruntled people making remarks everyday. The scanners can detect explosives smuggled on a person.

May 17, 2012 4:23 PM
....................

The Whole Body Strip Search Machines do not detect explosives.

Any claim that they can is a false cliam.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Wintermute said...
"But the damage a handgun could cause could, I'm sure, cause the cabin to depressurize."

Losing cabin pressure is uncomfortable, but it won't kill a normal person. That's what the oxygen masks are there for.
I guess someone with lung problems might be at risk.

Submitted by TSORon on

RB said…
[[The Whole Body Strip Search Machines do not detect explosives.

Any claim that they can is a false cliam.]]

RB actually has the right of it this time. Imagine my amazement. AIT does not detect explosives. It detects anomalies. It’s the TSO’s who work with the technology that detect the explosives.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I would like to see how many people were actually screened compared to the actual numbers of prohibited items found, with a proper breakdown of the items in terms of the actual threat, not confiscated water and shampoo. Finding 30 firearms through xray and metal detectors seems like it's on the low side for the scope of the TSA. Which would suggest to me you're incredibly over funded and given too much authority or you're not doing your job effectively with the equipment you already have. Just to clarify I have never posted on this site before

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