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TSA Week in Review: Passengers Continue to Pack Guns & Grenades

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Friday, August 10, 2012
Photograph of four inert grenades.

Inert Grenades - In addition to a spike in the number of guns found each day at checkpoints recently, we continue to find hand grenades and other ordnance on weekly basis. Please keep in mind that if something looks like a bomb, grenade, mine, etc., it is prohibited - real or not. And when these items are found at the checkpoint, they can cause significant delays to you and other passengers. I know they are cool novelty items; I use to own a few. But again, please don’t take them on planes! Read here and here on why inert items cause problems.

  • An inert grenade was discovered in a checked bag at Seattle (SEA) which resulted in a baggage screening room evacuation.
  • An inert grenade was discovered at Seattle (STL).
  • An inert grenade was discovered in a carry-on bag at LaGuardia (LGA) which resulted in a checkpoint closure.
  • An inert grenade was discovered in a carry-on bag at Milwaukee (MKE).
  • An Airsoft grenade (used by war game enthusiasts) was discovered in a checked bag at Phoenix (PHX) which resulted in an evacuation of the checked baggage area.

Gallup Survey Gives TSA Good Grades - Did you see the latest Gallup poll that Americans’views of TSA are more positive than negative? Check it out!

Disassembled pistol.

Firearm Parts - I want to point out that firearm parts are prohibited from being carried in your carry-on bags. Why, you might ask? Because while one passenger may have just the barrel, another passenger may have the rest of the parts to assemble a fully functioning firearm.

Four throwing stars, razor blade concelaed in ball cap, knife concelaed in lining of luggage.

Items in the Strangest Places - It’s one thing to forget you had a prohibited item in your bag, but when you intentionally try to sneak it past us, you could be cited or even arrested by law enforcement. Here are a few examples from this week where passengers tried to sneak items past our Officers.

  • A dagger concealed in the handle of a hairbrush was discovered at Minneapolis (MSP).
  • A knife was found concealed in a shoe at Bethel (BET).
  • Officers in Philadelphia (PHL) found a toiletry kit with undeclared liquids over 3.4 concealed under the clothing of a passenger in a wheelchair during the screening process.
  • A knife was discovered taped to the underside of a bag handle under the lining at St. Louis (STL).
  • A knife was found concealed in a binder at Rapid City (RAP).
  • A bottle of lotion was discovered in a passenger’s slacks at Phoenix (PHX). The first time she brought it through, it was in her bag.
  • A pocketknife was discovered sewn into the lining of a carry-on bag at Albuquerque (ABQ).

Stun Guns - 5 stun guns were discovered in carry-on bags at checkpoints around the nation at: Lynchburg (LYH), Reno (RNO), Denver (DEN), Detroit (DTW), Burbank (BUR)

Swords discovered at John F. Kennedy International Airport. (JFK)

Miscellaneous Prohibited Items - In addition to all of the other prohibited items we find weekly, our Officers also regularly find firearm components, realistic replica firearms, brass knuckles, ammunition, batons, and a lot of sharp pointy things. Just to mention a few...

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

5 loaded pistols.
3 loaded pistols.
Four loaded pistols.
Four loaded pistols.
Two loaded pistols.
 24 loaded firearms and 6 unloaded firearms were discovered this week. 30 total.

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

If you have a travel related issue or question that needs an immediate answer, you can contact us by clicking here.


Submitted by RB on

A bottle of lotion was discovered in a passenger’s slacks at Phoenix (PHX). The first time she brought it through, it was in her bag.

Exactly how does a bottle of lotion impact flight safety?

Submitted by Wintermute on

"Gallup Survey Gives TSA Good Grades"

I had to laugh at this one. The way the (two) questions were phrased possibly slanted the results towards the TSA. And even with the pro-TSA bias, just over half view the TSA positively. Not exactly glowing results.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Why has this blog not addressed the egregious breach of security at Newark this past week?

Submitted by SSSS For Some Reason on

"...TSA Week in Review: Passengers Continue to Pack Guns & Grenades"

And the TSA has yet to capture a Terrorist of any kind. Or stop any credible threats to aviation. Or do anything other than hinder transportation.

How is it that 10 years later, at currently 8 billion dollars a year, and all you have as a success story is being able to count how many items you found last week?

Submitted by Anonymous on

If that woman with the lotion had only separated her large bottle into a few 3.4 oz bottles, she wouldn't have had to suffer with dry skin.

Why is it ok to take five 100 ml bottles of liquids through security, but not one 500 ml bottle? It's the same amount of liquid. I saw on an earlier blog post that the TSA is checking liquids at the gate. Why can't you do that at the checkpoint? I'll let you wave your test strip over my 500 ml bottle of water at the checkpoint.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Did the body scanners find anything this week? If not, then why are we still using them? The metal detectors and x-ray luggage scanners seem to work better, cost less, and are faster.

Are there going to be any comments on the incidents at EWR last week? A woman walked away and boarded her flight after testing positive for explosives. How does one simply walk away in that situation? That caused massive problems at the airport and the woman managed to arrive at her destination with no problems.

I also saw that two TSO's at ATL were indicted for taking bribes to smuggle drugs. Are there going to be any comments on that story?

Submitted by Tramky on

Assuming all this is true, there are some bizarre people running around this country--we have known this for a very long time. Long before 9/11, in fact.

But the most significant lesson of 9/11 is that it is absolutely deadly to be defenseless, and the TSA is ALL about defenselessness on airplanes. For some reason the 2nd Amendment does not apply on commercial aircraft, even in the face of the overwhelming evidence of 9/11, where defenselessness on those planes led directly to the loss of 6% of Manhattan's office space and, what?, almost 3,000 people.

And we have again been witness to the sad, deadly effects of defenselessness in Aurora, Colorado, and in a mosque in Wisconsin. And every day, defenseless people are robbed, harmed and killed. The media stoke up fear of personal defense, fear of firearms, fear of weapons in the possession of the 'average citizen'.

Well, all we have to fear is fear itself.

Submitted by Anonymous on

What a disappointing weekly report. Nothing about false positives found by $200,000 full-body scanners. Nothing about BDOs fortuitously stumbling upon something newsworthy. Just the same list of guns and sharp pointy objects that pre-TSA security could have found just as well with old-fashioned metal detectors and x-rays.

Except, of course, for the liquids concealed in a wheelchair and the lotion in that passenger's slacks. That presumably counts as a Major Victory in the War on Liquids. But it's hardly a compelling argument for humiliating millions of people (and traumatizing some of them to the point of breaking down in tears at the gate) with routine invasive patdowns of "sensitive areas." Not to mention all the frightened passengers when the Hazmat Squad came in to dispose of the extremely dangerous lotion and liquids. Or were they just dumped in the trash barrel with all the other oversized liquid containers?

I'm waiting to see Blogger Bob's post responding to the 30 BDOs in Boston who came forward to complain about rampant racial profiling. Apparently the officers were under pressure produce an impressive quota of "stops, searches and criminal referrals" that would prove the "effectiveness" of the program. Even the Massachusetts State Police have raised questions over the high proportion of minority suspects the TSA refers to them.

This incident is so damaging to the TSA's already dismal reputation that I suspect Bob's bosses have already decided that the appropriate response is to ignore it. Especially since the State Police have registered their complaints, the TSA can't deny, defend, or excuse their officers or blame passengers. Bob is probably already hard at work on a series of distracting puppy posts as an immediate containment measure, as the TSA scrambles to protect themselves and avoid accountability.

Submitted by Anonymous on
I also saw that two TSO's at ATL were indicted for taking bribes to smuggle drugs. Are there going to be any comments on that story?

Since there weren't any comments on the two separate bribery/drug-smuggling operations at LAX, there surely won't be anything about this one. There's clearly something very wrong with TSA management that allows screeners to take bribes from drug smugglers not merely once but multiple times. The TSA's obsessive secrecy is surely part of the problem, as is their obsession with avoiding any accountability for anything.

The TSA has a very limited repertoire of responses to the many incidents that cast doubt on their comptetence, integrity, and/or effectiveness. The responses are all based on protecting the delusion of infallibility that the TSA insists on maintaining: The TSA is always right.

They can deny the incident and imply that the passenger who reported it is a liar. They can justify or excuse what the TSA employee did as necessary for security. Or they can insist that the TSA employee was acting properly and blame the passenger for whatever went wrong.

When the incident is so egregious that they clearly can't deny the incident, defend the TSOs, or blame passengers, the only other option is to ignore it. And that's exactly how they've responded to these bribery operations. It's also how they will probably respond to the allegations of racial profiling by BDOs in Boston. If they ignore a problem, it doesn't exist. The TSA is always right.
Submitted by RB on

Absolutely amazed that the ethical TSA Blog Team forgot to mention the illegal acts being conducted by TSA employees at Logan, you know, the racial profiling, searches for drugs and other illegal things as discussed in this article being conducted by TSA's Behavior Detection employees. A program with no basis in science.

TSA officers allege racial profiling at Logan

At a meeting last month with TSA officials, officers at Logan provided written complaints about profiling from 32 officers, some of whom wrote anonymously. Officers said managers’ demands for high numbers of stops, searches and criminal referrals had led co-workers to target minorities in the belief that those stops were more likely to yield drugs, outstanding arrest warrants or immigration problems.

One would almost believe that the Integrity and honesty of TSA employees was being set aside so these issues were not made public. Of course an organization with these Core Values would never do such a thing;


We are a people of integrity who respect and care for others and protect the information we handle.

We are a people who conduct ourselves in an honest, trustworthy and ethical manner at all times.

What gives TSA? Trying to hide something?

Is Deputy Administrator John Halinksi still "UNAWARE" of the public's issues with TSA? If so Halinksi should be fired.

TSA is a failed experiment and should be disbanded posthaste.

The citizens of the United States cannot support the terrorist organization that is TSA.

Submitted by RB on

Of all the numerous images provided by TSA on this latest TSA's "Look at How Good We Are" post exactly which of the pictured items would not have been found on baggage x ray or WTMD equipment?

These legacy machines are much less expensive than the failed, error prone, and extremely expensive TSA STRIP SEARCH MACHINES, those machines that strip citizens of their dignity?

Submitted by Anonymous on

No comment on the petition that was pulled down early by the Whitehouse?? NO matter, there are other ways to do things.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Why again do we need body scanners? To find bottles of lotion???

Submitted by Anonymous on
Blogger Bob said:
"In addition to a spike in the number of guns found each day at checkpoints recently..."

If the increase of 1 additional gun - from 29 last week to 30 this week - is a spike. What would that make the drop from 32 two weeks ago to 29 last week?

Oh wait, it was a spike in the number of guns found when it went from 32 down to 29.

This word you use, I do not think it means what you think it means.
Submitted by Anonymous on

Hi Bob, I eagerly await your post regarding the serious allegations of discrimination on the part of Boston TSOs.

Or is this blog's "dialog" only for posts that you think make your employer look good?


Submitted by Anonymous on

You do realize that the picture you posted that has a boarding pass in the background shows the boarding pass' 2-D barcode. Such barcodes can (and often do) include personally-identifiable information, including the passenger's name?

Submitted by Anonymous on

What is notable about the shift of this blog from addressing people's actual concerns to the self congratulatory nonsense that it has become is that your logn list of prohibited items leads to one of only two conclusions. Either:

1. These sorts of things, in similar numbers were getting through before TSA and did not harm, or

2. You're catching exactly what was being caught before an in exactly the same old technology way, at far greater cost.

Far from being positive PR, these litanies of prohibited items point out only that TSA isn't an improvement over the prior system.

Submitted by RB on
Mission Creep Leads TSA to Racially Profile in Pursuit of Non-Terrorists to Arrest

"The TSA has no business looking for drugs, outstanding arrest warrants, or immigration problems unless it has serious reason to believe that the person involved poses a serious threat to air safety. If it is going to serve as an extension of every other sort of law enforcement, then its searches should be subject to the same requirements for probable cause, which would allow almost everyone to travel without submitting to TSA examination."

What they said!!!!!!!!!!!

Submitted by Anonymous on

I'm concerned about the story with the Boston TSO's and racial profiling. The profiling doesn't bother me as much as the quotas for referring passengers to other agencies for issues that aren't related to aviation safety. It sounds like the TSA is actively looking for drugs, warrants, immigration issues, etc. I know this blog says that the TSA isn't looking for drugs, but it sure sounds like you are. The searches I have seen at airports make a lot more sense now that there is a quota program behind them.

Submitted by Anonymous on

TSA Week in Review: Boston TSOs continue to discriminate against black and minority passengers

Will we ever see this headline in the TSA blog dialogue -- I mean monologue?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Wow, this is good stuff! Can I suggest a headline for next week's update?

"TSA too busy looking in people's pants -- fails to notice man in yellow life vest on runway at JFK"

Submitted by RB on

TSA sure is being quite.

Seems the norm when the news is running against the TSA, which is the also the norm most days.

You TSA Bloggers seems to find the time to thump your collective chest each week about finding a tube of toothpaste or such but clam up when there is clear evidence that TSA is a criminal organization doing illegal searches.

For the $8,000,000,000.00 dollars a year TSA budget I expect better.

Submitted by Anonymous on

So, Mr. Burns, how about those serious allegations at Logan? Nice job posting a huge entry to push down the questions listed here.

That's why they pay you the big bucks!

Submitted by Anonymous on

I feel better now, and thank-you TSA agents of America. People don't seem to understand the good work being done by the TSA on safety.

Throwing stars are dangerous weapons on a plane because in the hands of a ninja, people can, and DO get hurt across America each year. One less ninja throwing star attack the better.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Even though those blades look like the tacky tourist-trap "hang them on the mantle" type, the TSO's should have treated them properly.

TSOs: Lay 'em flat and don't touch the blade/scabbard without wearing gloves. Do not touch the edges, because real swords are very sharp.

Travelers: If it's a blade, put it in a box and ship it. If you must take them on a plane, pack them in a long-arm case, put a cap pistol in there, and declare them at the check-in counter.

Submitted by @SkyWayManAz on

I've been convinced TSA is quite pleased every time they find someone's drug stash. They hope it says to bad guys we can find your bomb if we can find drugs. Remember when TSA used to make a big deal about all the travelers they caught with fake ID's. I wonder which group of people that effects? Did they all stop flying or did TSA realize that was opening itself up to bias accusations? It shouldn't matter who the person is if TSA is properly screening. We used to have problems with delegations of lower ranking South African officials apparently because the ANC is a terroist organization. Tell me there's no bias there. An American student got put on the no fly list who was in Egypt during the protests. Since he's gone public he wasn't allowed to board a plane to the US you'd think if he was a terrorist TSA DHS FBI or somebody would happily say that. Sounds beyond obvious Gandhi would be on it if he were alive today. He disobeyed a conductor refusing to leave first class. Burned identity papers encouraging others to do the same. Engaged in treason and sedition to the crown, well that's what they said at any rate. Or would that be to obvious showing bias? Guess that was why we were embarrassed Nelson Mandela was on it.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Anonymous said...
Wow, this is good stuff! Can I suggest a headline for next week's update?

"TSA too busy looking in people's pants -- fails to notice man in yellow life vest on runway at JFK"

August 14, 2012 9:29 AM
Uh, TSA has nothing do do with that. That's the Port Authority's job.

Submitted by Steven J Fromm on

Wow, this stuff is really scary. The question that must be asked is "What were these people thinking?"
Is this not part of larger gun problem in this country. This really makes it tough on our dedicated law officers. Thank god for these brave public servants!

Submitted by RB on

Anonymous said...
Anonymous said...
Wow, this is good stuff! Can I suggest a headline for next week's update?

"TSA too busy looking in people's pants -- fails to notice man in yellow life vest on runway at JFK"

August 14, 2012 9:29 AM
Uh, TSA has nothing do do with that. That's the Port Authority's job.

August 15, 2012 6:46 PM
TSA approves the airports security plan, the plan failed, TSA failed.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Top Five Reasons for Lotion Seizure
5. Ladies protecting their expensive cosmetic lotions are a known security threat.
4. The passengers can't have better skin than TSA.
3. Dry skin may spontaneously catch on fire during the flight.
2. A passenger with moist skin might slip past security.
1. It will stimulate the economy by requiring the passenger to purchase another one.