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TSA Week in Review - December 25th - 31st

Saturday, January 06, 2018
TSA Week in Review - December 25th - 31st

TSA discovered 63 firearms over the last week in carry-on bags around the nation. Of the 63 firearms discovered, 51 were loaded and 18 had a round chambered. Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality. Travelers bringing firearms to the checkpoint can be arrested and fined up to $11,000. Travelers should familiarize themselves with state and local firearm laws for each point of travel prior to departure. You can go here for more details on how to properly travel with your firearms in checked baggage. All of the firearms pictured were discovered over the last week. See complete lists below.

Checkpoint and checked baggage screening acts as a deterrent to keep those with ill will from attempting to cause catastrophic damage to an aircraft. In addition to all of the other prohibited items we find weekly in carry-on bags, our officers also regularly find firearm components, realistic replica firearms, bb and pellet guns, airsoft guns, brass knuckles, ammunition, batons, stun guns, small pocket knives and many other prohibited items too numerous to note.

TSA discovered 63 firearms over the last week in carry-on bags around the nation. Of the 63 firearms discovered, 51 were loaded and 18 had a round chambered. Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality.*In order to provide a timely weekly update, this data is compiled from a preliminary report. The year-end numbers will vary slightly from what is reported in the weekly updates. However, any monthly, midyear or end-of-year numbers TSA provides on this blog or elsewhere will be actual numbers and not estimates. 

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 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. 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.

If you haven’t read them yet, make sure you check out our year in review posts for 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016.

And don’t forget to check out our top 10 most unusual finds videos for 2016 & 2017.

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Bob Burns

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Comments

Submitted by Steve on

Off topic but is there any movement of lifting the 3 plus now VIPR hiring freeze?

Submitted by SSSS For Some Reason on

Do you found 51 loaded firearms but 18 of them were loaded-er.

And you only found 51 firearms after screening around twelve million passengers on about three hundred thousand flights. And not a single arrest report connected any of the firearms found, not even the eighteen that were super-duper loaded.

I guess if I had 150 million to spend to find one gun I would make as big a deal as possible too. Gotta justify the cost somehow.

Submitted by RB on

The last thing needed are more VIPR groups violating citizen rights. I did see a group of DHS police hanging around the Paris Las Vegas Resort doing absolutely nothing to earn their taxpayer funded salaries.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I read an article about the new Checkpoint 3D CTX baggage scanners. A comment by a DHS/TSA employee stated that these scanners can tell if a coke is a coke. That would suggest that LGA restrictions could end with full deployment of these scanners. Are any discussions on this taking place at TSA?

Submitted by West Cooper on

I personally have not heard discussions about specific changes to the LGA rules as of this time. I can tell you that I believe that these discussions are certainly being held at our research facility, and HQ. I have not had hands on time with the new 3D systems, but some of my peers have done hands on and say that it is a pretty big leap in terms of capabilities for the xray system. Whether that entails future adjustments to the LGA rules, will remain to be seen (I certainly hope so!).

TSA Blog Team

Submitted by Xr on

As always, absolutely nothing you needed your slow, invasive, and ineffective naked body scanners to detect. Meanwhile, how many people suffered physical searches thanks to false alarms on these useless machines?

Why are Curtis Burns and West Cooper unwilling to address, let alone answer, that question?

How many weeks has it been since you last trumpeted something dangerous you found with the naked body scanners?

Submitted by 3 4-1-1 on

Why do you call it "3-1-1-" when the actual policy is "3.4-1-1"?

And why does this policy exist, since there is no scientific justification for it in the first place?

Submitted by West Cooper on

The original changes for the liquids ban were for 3 ounce sized items. After some time, the change to 3.4 was made in order to more closely align with the 100ml measurement used by many other countries. 3-1-1 was the original catch phrase and simply stuck (lets face it, it has better flow than "3.4-1-1"). It is simply a move to make the regulations more easily recognizable for foreign and domestic travelers alike.

The policy exists because liquid bombs are a viable threat.

Dr. Sidney Alford demonstrates the viability of a liquid bomb here, about a decade ago.

TSA Blog Team

Submitted by Nope on

Sorry, West, there is zero independent, peer-reviewed research supporting the 3.4-1-1 policy. You know it and we know it. And yet you keep lying about it. Why is that?

Submitted by Not West on

That has been debunked countless times.

Submitted by RB on

Submitted by West Cooper on Tue, 2018-01-09 08:59
The original changes for the liquids ban were for 3 ounce sized items. After some time, the change to 3.4 was made in order to more closely align with the 100ml measurement used by many other countries. 3-1-1 was the original catch phrase and simply stuck (lets face it, it has better flow than "3.4-1-1"). It is simply a move to make the regulations more easily recognizable for foreign and domestic travelers alike.

The policy exists because liquid bombs are a viable threat.

Dr. Sidney Alford demonstrates the viability of a liquid bomb here, about a decade ago.

TSA Blog Team
.......................
What Alford did not demonstrate was a single component liquid explosive that could be safely transported or a multi-component liquid explosive that could be mixed in the airplane.

LGA restrictions are just hogwash and fear mongering by TSA.

Submitted by SSSS For Some Reason on

"...The policy exists because liquid bombs are a viable threat."

No. It isn't. But let's say it is.... If the liquids are so potentially dangerous why do you let them through at all? I can take twenty or more ounces of fluids through security if I first pour them into 100ml bottles and put them in a sippy bag.

And of the liquids are so potentially dangerous, each bottle a possible bomb, why do you throw these potential bombs into a common rubbish bin right next to the densely packed lines of potential victims?

You won't answer these questions and you will try and claim the answer is SSI. We know you won't answer these questions because the answer is nothing more than you trying to look important so you can claim to be earning the eight billion dollars a year in taxpayers money.

Submitted by Cindy M on

The priority lately seems to be to haul 66 year old suburban housewives out of line and give them a thorough feeling up and patting down- breasts, buttocks, and lady parts. The "explosives" scanner actually detects face cream and really what 66 year old woman doesn't use lots of moisturizer? The body scanner doesn't like underwire bras or any embellishments on trousers. So here we go, I'm wearing leggings, a sport bra, no jewelry, and I did not moisturize this morning. Will I get the touchy-feely treatment? Gawd, I hope not. I will be contacting my congressman and senators to request a review of these humiliating invasive pat downs. After my last encounter with TSA, someone got a gun through Ft Lauderdale and shot 5 people dead. Guess what? It wasn't a 66 year old woman wearing jewelry and using face cream.

Submitted by RB on

Submitted by Nope on Tue, 2018-01-09 09:46
Sorry, West, there is zero independent, peer-reviewed research supporting the 3.4-1-1 policy. You know it and we know it. And yet you keep lying about it. Why is that?
....................................
Dishonesty and a total lack of ethics is TSA's only tool. Evidence of both is readily found on the TSA blog.

Submitted by Susan Richart on

"And of the liquids are so potentially dangerous, each bottle a possible bomb, why do you throw these potential bombs into a common rubbish bin right next to the densely packed lines of potential victims?"

This alone is proof for all the world to see that TSA is NOT about securing airline travel and is nothing but a show.

Submitted by West Cooper on

So, your argument against Dr Sidney Alfords demonstration is that he did not demonstrate a stable two part that could be mixed on a plane. Even though he comments here, that the basic materials he used in the demonstration are obtainable in the public sector, and that they were mixed up in items bought airside. Our commenters here can consistently state that things are not possible, but Dr Alford has demonstrated how it can be done, with items that are fairly easy to obtain, and can be transported and mixed airside. I will take the commentary of a leading researcher, developer and expert on explosives over internet comments posted on a blog, any day.  

TSA Blog Team

Submitted by West Cooper on

Cindy, I am sorry that you had a bad experience. I would ask that in addition to contacting your elected representatives, that you file a complaint about the experience with the TSA at our contact page.

Just a technical point, the individual that shot the people in Ft' Lauderdale, was in the baggage claim area - out in the public area, which is open to the general public. He was not past security or in the security checkpoint.

TSA Blog Team

Submitted by What Part Of In... on

...do you not understand?

Submitted by RB on

Submitted by West Cooper on Thu, 2018-01-11 09:56
So, your argument against Dr Sidney Alfords demonstration is that he did not demonstrate a stable two part that could be mixed on a plane. Even though he comments here, that the basic materials he used in the demonstration are obtainable in the public sector, and that they were mixed up in items bought airside. Our commenters here can consistently state that things are not possible, but Dr Alford has demonstrated how it can be done, with items that are fairly easy to obtain, and can be transported and mixed airside. I will take the commentary of a leading researcher, developer and expert on explosives over internet comments posted on a blog, any day.

TSA Blog Team

Ok if Alford has shown a significant threat then explain why TSA tosses all of those potential bombs in common garbage bins right at the checkpoint.

TSA proves by action that these items present no threat.

Submitted by SSSS For Some Reason on

"...So, your argument against Dr Sidney Alfords "

No. My argument is with two things specifically;

First is energy density. Items that can be mixed into a binary liquid explosive AND stable enough to carry with no additional safety measures are going to do little more than make some smoke and possibly put someone's eye out.

Second, and more importantly, your 3-1-1 nonsense does not prevent the possibility of someone getting the liquids through security. Terrorist A caries Part A through security in a large number of small container. Terrorist B caries Part B in a similar number of small container. Mid-flight the two get together and poof! your 3-1-1 rules have done nothing and everyone on the plane is coughing from all the smoke generated by a weak chemical reaction.

So the question still stands.... If these containers of liquids larger than 100ml are so potentially dangerous why are they tossed into a common rubbish bin that is full of other potentially dangerous bottles right next to the densely packed lines?

Submitted by Cindy M on

Mr Cooper, thank you for your understanding. I am married to an Army officer with 21 years of service. I understand security concerns from a different perspective than perhaps most Americans. When the grousing started about TSA, I counseled friends to cheerfully cooperate. Removing shoes, segregating small bottles of liquids, or submitting to a body scan I argued were small inconveniences to ensure safety. My attitude has changed. I no longer feel safe entering the security checkpoints. I view TSA procedures as capricious and inconsistent. I feel threatened by your agents. For a variety of reasons I will not go into, these patdowns leave me traumatized and depressed. When the scanners were introduced I believed they were an improvement. Now however, I see that the machines don't spot real problems. Instead they seem to be confused by a variety of normal things such as sequins, metal, or other sorts of embellishments on clothing. Regarding the explosives detector, I haven't handled a firearm or even a sparkler in 30 years. Unfortunately 80 percent of the soaps and lotions I use contain glycerin and that seems to have earned me full body invasive patdown. If I believed that having my most private parts touched by your surly personnel was necessary for effective security I might submit graciously. At this point the anxiety I experience trying to make it through security has altered my thinking on how you are carrying out your mission. The report about the experience of the CNN correspondent in Detroit as well as stories about the way transgender people are flagged only serve to reinforce my view that something is very wrong in your shop. It's broken and Congress as well as the airlines need to fix it. Thank you for allowing me to comment on your blog.

Submitted by Max Yost on

Who paid Dr. Alford to do this demonstration and what were his scientific criteria? Who performed the peer review?

Everything is possible, even the earth getting hit by an asteroid: https://cneos.jpl.nasa.gov/ca/. As a matter of fact, this IS peer-reviewed science.

Submitted by Susan Richart on

West wrote: "I will take the commentary of a leading researcher, developer and expert on explosives over internet comments posted on a blog, any day."

A "leading researcher, developer and expert on explosives' who is paid by both the British and U.S. governments to produce the results they want him to produce.

Submitted by West Cooper on

BBC news commissioned the video I posted above. So a *somewhat* neutral party paid and arranged for the demonstration. As for peer review, The criteria as I understood it, was the premise that there is a liquid explosive that can be used to blow up a plane - scientifically, he probably kept his notes private, so loonbags wouldn't try to duplicate his experiement, or worse, use his formulae to bring down a plane. I have no published account of a peer review of his specific demonstration.

I have personally been to the range with some of our TSSEs and local EOD, and watched a similar demonstration, done with materials that are not that difficult to obtain, built/combined on the tailgate of a pickup truck, and yielding enough explosive force to do some fairly serious damage to an airplane. These are actual bomb guys, that have decades of time building, designing, dismantling and deploying explosives of all kinds. When they tell me something explosive can do "job A", I tend to believe them.

Asteroids possibly hitting the earth has been a constant source of worry since we recognized what they were. Luckily, we have an excellent security system (the earths atmosphere) that renders most asteroid related threats moot - even so, we still have a few asteroids that actually impact with the surface of the earth (the numbers are a bit fuzzy, as most asteroids burn up completely prior to actually making contact, but some still get through).

TSA Blog Team

Submitted by West Cooper on

Actually, in this case, it was a *neutral* news organization. The BBC commissioned this demonstration.

*Just because someone has done work with government institutions, as well as civilian institutions, does not mean they are paid to give a specific result. Dr. Alford has done tons of work on his own to save lives on battlefields and former battlefields all over the world. His disarming systems are pretty en vogue right now, and while he has made a pretty good living at the industry, he has also developed specific items, to solve specific problems (such as clearing mines after or during a conflict). His reputation has been above reproach for decades (at least after school, where he used to set off explosives under his teachers chair), and I am very comfortable taking his word on this subject.

TSA Blog Team

Submitted by West Cooper on

I am happy for the coversation, and that we are able to give you a forum to communicate your point of view on these issues. 21 years is a long row to hoe living the Army life, thank your Army Officer for their service, and by extension, your service - being married to a service member is not a cake walk either.

I can understand your frustration, at least to some extent, I too have had bad experiences traveling and posted information to sites in an attempt to get things handled the right way. I have no tolerance for our people doing the wrong thing, and without fail ask any of our posting members to file complaints about their individual experiences, so that possible issues can be followed up on by TSA.

We are constantly working to find and deploy better equipment that gives our Officers a better opportunity to find threats. Our capabilities at this time are better than they were 10 (even 5) years ago - but there is always room for improvement. I welcome you to contact TSA directly and present your concerns at our contact us page. We welcome all feedback, positive and not so positive. I highly recommend that you follow up with elected Officials and even the airlines directly to voice your concerns. Please feel free to post at our site any time, we have one rule, please follow the posting guidelines here, and we are golden. Thank you again for posting, and I hope that your next experience with us is a positive one.

TSA Blog Team

Submitted by RB on

Submitted by West Cooper on Sun, 2018-01-14 09:09
BBC news commissioned the video I posted above. So a *somewhat* neutral party paid and arranged for the demonstration. As for peer review, The criteria as I understood it, was the premise that there is a liquid explosive that can be used to blow up a plane - scientifically, he probably kept his notes private, so loonbags wouldn't try to duplicate his experiement, or worse, use his formulae to bring down a plane. I have no published account of a peer review of his specific demonstration.

I have personally been to the range with some of our TSSEs and local EOD, and watched a similar demonstration, done with materials that are not that difficult to obtain, built/combined on the tailgate of a pickup truck, and yielding enough explosive force to do some fairly serious damage to an airplane. These are actual bomb guys, that have decades of time building, designing, dismantling and deploying explosives of all kinds. When they tell me something explosive can do "job A", I tend to believe them.

Asteroids possibly hitting the earth has been a constant source of worry since we recognized what they were. Luckily, we have an excellent security system (the earths atmosphere) that renders most asteroid related threats moot - even so, we still have a few asteroids that actually impact with the surface of the earth (the numbers are a bit fuzzy, as most asteroids burn up completely prior to actually making contact, but some still get through).

TSA Blog Team

Submitted by RB on

Submitted by West Cooper on Sun, 2018-01-14 09:09
BBC news commissioned the video I posted above. So a *somewhat* neutral party paid and arranged for the demonstration. As for peer review, The criteria as I understood it, was the premise that there is a liquid explosive that can be used to blow up a plane - scientifically, he probably kept his notes private, so loonbags wouldn't try to duplicate his experiement, or worse, use his formulae to bring down a plane. I have no published account of a peer review of his specific demonstration.

I have personally been to the range with some of our TSSEs and local EOD, and watched a similar demonstration, done with materials that are not that difficult to obtain, built/combined on the tailgate of a pickup truck, and yielding enough explosive force to do some fairly serious damage to an airplane. These are actual bomb guys, that have decades of time building, designing, dismantling and deploying explosives of all kinds. When they tell me something explosive can do "job A", I tend to believe them.

Asteroids possibly hitting the earth has been a constant source of worry since we recognized what they were. Luckily, we have an excellent security system (the earths atmosphere) that renders most asteroid related threats moot - even so, we still have a few asteroids that actually impact with the surface of the earth (the numbers are a bit fuzzy, as most asteroids burn up completely prior to actually making contact, but some still get through).

TSA Blog Team

Submitted by RB on

Submitted by West Cooper on Sun, 2018-01-14 09:20
Actually, in this case, it was a *neutral* news organization. The BBC commissioned this demonstration.

*Just because someone has done work with government institutions, as well as civilian institutions, does not mean they are paid to give a specific result. Dr. Alford has done tons of work on his own to save lives on battlefields and former battlefields all over the world. His disarming systems are pretty en vogue right now, and while he has made a pretty good living at the industry, he has also developed specific items, to solve specific problems (such as clearing mines after or during a conflict). His reputation has been above reproach for decades (at least after school, where he used to set off explosives under his teachers chair), and I am very comfortable taking his word on this subject.

TSA Blog Team

If LGA's are such a true threat then why does TSA toss these potential bombs in common trash bins right at the checkpoint? Answer that question.

Submitted by SSSS For Some Reason on

"...I have personally been to the range with some of our TSSEs and local EOD, and watched a similar demonstration, done with materials that are not that difficult to obtain, built/combined on the tailgate of a pickup truck, and yielding enough explosive force to do some fairly serious damage to an airplane. "

OK. What makes putting these liquids in a large number of small containers safe?

Second question: why are these dangerous liquids just tossed into a common rubbish bin next to the most densely packed group of potential victims? Why are they not disposed of by your Explosives Detective Teams? Why are they not at least thrown into reinforced containers that might minimize at least somewhat the potential danger from these binary explosive liquids?

Submitted by RB on

TSA and the TSA Blog Team refuse to answer why LGA's are just tossed in common garbage at the checkpoint. We all know why but if West answers that question it will show all of the other lies.

Submitted by Max Yost on

1. The BBC is funded 75% by the British government and strictly regulated. I this guy's research was that significant, it would have been funded by the British MOD and Home Office and peer-reviewed by several professional society. Why didn't your agency fund the guy's research?
2. Concerning peer review, you have no idea what you're talking about.
3. Concerning near-earth objects, fluid mechanics and celestial mechanics, you have no idea what you're talking about.

Submitted by West Cooper on

1. That is why I included the - *somewhat* in my statement. They recieve government funding, but that does not always translate to poitive press or pushing the governmental position on subjects.

I do not know if DHS/TSA conducted the exact same testing. I do not have any information to indicate that DHS/TSA did not conduct or commission testing of this nature. If DHS/TSA did this testing, I have not seen the results or any info published from it.  I have, however, been present at physical demonstrations by EOD and our TSSEs that demonstrated the capabilities of liquid explosives, as well as the relative stability of the items used in the process. I also know that we have a research and development division (with industry experts and related field experts), that conduct testing of equipment, processes, materials, and help to drive some of our policies.

2. I merely indicated that he probably did not share the specifics of his work to prevent a possible reutilization of his techniques or formulae.

3. I simply stated the basics about asteroids. If you would care to point out what in my statements was wrong, I would be glad to learn from you about it - seriously, I am always trying to learn.

TSA Blog Team

Submitted by Nope on

"I have personally been to the range with some of our TSSEs and local EOD, and watched a similar demonstration, done with materials that are not that difficult to obtain, built/combined on the tailgate of a pickup truck, and yielding enough explosive force to do some fairly serious damage to an airplane."

This is a lie.

Submitted by RB on

Submitted by West Cooper on Tue, 2018-01-16 08:52
1. That is why I included the - *somewhat* in my statement. They recieve government funding, but that does not always translate to poitive press or pushing the governmental position on subjects.

I do not know if DHS/TSA conducted the exact same testing. I do not have any information to indicate that DHS/TSA did not conduct or commission testing of this nature. If DHS/TSA did this testing, I have not seen the results or any info published from it. I have, however, been present at physical demonstrations by EOD and our TSSEs that demonstrated the capabilities of liquid explosives, as well as the relative stability of the items used in the process. I also know that we have a research and development division (with industry experts and related field experts), that conduct testing of equipment, processes, materials, and help to drive some of our policies.

2. I merely indicated that he probably did not share the specifics of his work to prevent a possible reutilization of his techniques or formulae.

3. I simply stated the basics about asteroids. If you would care to point out what in my statements was wrong, I would be glad to learn from you about it - seriously, I am always trying to learn.

TSA Blog Team

.....................................

Why does TSA allow the disposal of suspect LGA's that are intercepted at TSA screening points in common trash bins right at the checkpoints?

Is it the TSA Blog Teams intention to continuing ignoring this question because the answer is inconvenient and proves TSA LGA policies have no basis in fact?

Submitted by SSSS For Some Reason on

"...I have, however, been present at physical demonstrations by EOD and our TSSEs that demonstrated the capabilities of liquid explosives,"

We don't doubt that you were there and saw what you saw. What we want to know is why are these potentially dangerous items tossed into common trash cans next to the densely packed security lines? Are they dangerous and need to be disposed of in something more secure than a trash can? Or are they not dangerous and can just be tossed away as if they were nothing more than a bottle of water?

Submitted by West Cooper on

Such a compelling and well written response... Even if it is wrong.

Thank you for your commentary, please visit us again.

TSA Blog Team

Submitted by West Cooper on

Thank Max, I am glad we are pals. I will start reading up on this tonight once I trudge through snowpocalypse here in NC. Thank you for the information!

TSA Blog Team