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TSA Week in Review: March 11 - 17

Wednesday, March 20, 2019
Guns

As predicted, spring break has been busy, and I’ll go ahead and wager that, with the start of March Madness, it will only get busier. Let’s go Sooners! If you plan on traveling for a game, read below for more on how to become a professional globe trotter. And trust me when I say, using a flashbang to cheer on your team is out of bounds!

Between March 11 - 17, TSA screened 16.6 million passengers and discovered 71 firearms in carry-on bags. Of the 71 firearms discovered, 66 were loaded and 29 had a round chambered. Seriously folks?

At the risk repeating myself again, bringing your firearm through a security checkpoint may result in a civil penalty of up to $13,333 and a disqualification from TSA Pre✓®. If you need to travel with your firearm, check out our transporting firearms and ammunition page to learn how easy it is. Lots of people do it every day and they don’t make the news. Also, remember to take a look at your airline’s policies and the laws at your destination as rules and laws vary.

Review all the firearm discoveries from March 10 to 17.

Replica Firearms Section

Don’t foul out by packing your replica gun shaped items in your carry-on bag. Did you know that anything made to look like a firearm must be packed in your checked bag? Now you do! It doesn’t matter if the thing actually shoots a projectile or just misses free throws, place it in your checked bag. Looking at you, Pistol Pete! Pack them pistols in checked bags, before heading to the Salt Lake City to cheer on New Mexico State.

Pictured above from the left:

  • TSA officers at Southwest Florida International Airport discovered a lighter shaped like a firearm on March 15.
  • You can use this flash drive ‘gun’ to pass files to your team, but traveling with this item can land you in big trouble, as a passenger from Newark Liberty International Airport learned on March 16.
  • On March 13, officers at Wichita Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport discovered two cap guns during security screening.
  • Orlando International Airport TSA officers discovered a training firearm during X-ray screening on March 16.
     

Flashbang and Knife

 For me, spring break has been less about sports and more about esports, you know, video games. However, if you are traveling this spring break, remember that airport security isn’t a game. There are no respawns and the civil penalties are for real. All fans, athletes, gamers and noobs should check out our What Can I Bring? tool before heading to the airport.

Pictured above from the left:

  • TSA officers at El Paso International Airport discovered this flashbang in a carry-on bag on March 17. A freaking flashbang folks – it’s a stun grenade that uses a bright flash and loud noise to disorientate victims. Unless you’re playing Counter Strike, then it’s used to blind your teammates.
  • Officers at Chattanooga Airport were shocked to learn that Wraith from Apex Legends travels commercially instead of using Dimensional Rift. Don’t worry, a voice warned her that knives must be packed in checked baggage.
     

Knives Cover Section 

I’m going to jump straight to the point, knives must be placed in checked bags. To whittle it down more, don’t be dull and pack your sharp weapons in your carry-on bag. I hope my cutting remarks didn’t leave anyone in stitches. (too much?)

Pictured above top row from the left:

  • A switchblade that is just as sharp as it is decorative was found in a carry-on bag by McGhee Tyson Airport TSA officers on March 14.
  • On March 16, two butterfly knives and a switchblade was discovered during X-ray screening by Portland International Airport TSA officers.
  • Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport officers located this switchblade knife during X-ray screening on March 13.

Pictured above middle row from the left:

  • A throwing star discovered during X-ray screening at Albuquerque International Sunport on March 16.
  • Raleigh-Durham International Airport officers were just as surprised as the passenger after twisting the handle of a cane to reveal a large sword on March 13.
  • Officers at Eastern Iowa Airport discovered this double sided knife during screening on March 13.

Pictured above bottom row from the left:

  • On March 16, a butterfly knife was discovered by TSA officers at Dallas Love Field Airport.
  • TSA officers at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport located this knife in a carry-on bag on March 16.
  • Portland International Airport officers located two knives during X-ray screening, with one of them being a spring loaded switch blade on March 16.
     

Our mission at TSA is to ensure you get to your destination safely by keeping dangerous items off planes. The most common explanation we hear from travelers is “I forgot it was in my bag.” Don’t be that person. Save yourself some money and embarrassment and thoroughly check your bags for prohibited items before heading to the airport.

If you think this blog features all of the prohibited items we found between March 11 and 17, you’re mistaken. Every day our officers stop way more prohibited items than what is featured in this post. Like way more.

Remember to come prepared. For a list of prohibited items, be sure to use the What Can I Bring? tool. If you have questions about the security process, reach out to AskTSA on Twitter or Facebook Messenger. Our AskTSA team will happily answer even the most outlandish travel-related questions.

Want to know how many firearms we found last year? Check out our 2018 blog post.

Also, don’t forget to check out our top 10 most unusual finds video for 2018.

Want to learn more or see the other wacky finds? Follow us @TSA on Twitter and Instagram and like us on Facebook.

Jay Wagner

Comments

Submitted by Geoffrey on

Always appreciate the information.
What happened to the table of what was found at which airports? I always scanned this with interest.
You people are a significant inconvenience, but I'm sure glad you're there.
Keep up the good work.

Submitted by 12 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 West Cooper and Jay Wagner 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 Patdown Or Assault? on

How is a passenger to determine whether a pat-down by TSA crosses the line into sexual assault?

Does any such line exist?

What should a passenger who is being sexually assaulted during a pat-down do?

Submitted by Drop In The Bucket on

I can tell you for a fact that everything in the picture above represents what on the average is found at any Cat X airport at a single checkpoint in about a week's time.

Submitted by Jay Wagner on

@Geoffrey – Thank you for the comment. I link to a PDF table of firearms found nationwide. You can find it right above the image of the 4 replica firearms.

@RB – Replica and toy firearms are not included in the 71 firearms. There was no information about the flashbang being expended. I agree with you; it does appear that way in the photo.

Submitted by SSSS For Some Reason on

"...Between March 11 - 17, TSA screened 16.6 million passengers and discovered 71 firearms in carry-on bags. Of the 71 firearms discovered, 66 were loaded and 29 had a round chambered. Seriously folks?"

Seriously indeed. Lets put this in some kind of context, shall we?

The TSA costs 7.8 Billion tax dollars per year. That works out to, rounding for convenience, one hundred and fifty million dollars per week. That is the number 150 followed by 6 more zeros every week. That means that the TSA spent 2.1 million dollars to find each of those 71 firearms. And that is ignoring the TSA's own Red-Team-Testing failure rate that shows as many as six hundred firearms could have made it through the checkpoint undetected.

This is kind of fun, lets see what other context we can put on these numbers.

7.8 billion a year is, again rounded for convenience, 150 million a week.
As mentioned above, each firearm represents 2.1 million dollars.
Each TSA employee cost $2,205 for the week. That is averaged, the gate agents get less and management gets more.
Each Passenger was screened at a cost of $9 each. Again, an average across the entire system. Each of those passengers was charged $12.50 to be screened, by the way.
Each Adult in the US was charged $.50 for the week. That is averaged based on all adults, not all tax payers.

See.... numbers can be fun! Even more so when you put them in both context and perspective.

The TSA is costing quite a bit of money for almost no results. Seems like one of those things that qualifies as an 'easy fix' when it comes to problems the government creates.

And in case you are wondering, and I know you are, the only thing the TSA is actually constitutionally authorized to do is disband.

Submitted by RB on

@ SSSS For Some Reason

I suggest using the decimals and all the zero's. People get a better sense of just how big a drain TSA is on taxpayers. Little good comes from TSA that can not be accomplished by private industry. Airports and airplanes should be protected by the owners not the federal government. Do stores like Macy's, Sear's, or which ever have government security? TSA should be a regulatory agency just like other agencies.

There is no reason taxpayers should be funding medical and retirement benefits when the job can be done in the private sector.

Submitted by Edmond on

How do u choose people for screening? Is the nationality a major factor for choosing?

Submitted by MATHS on

So per your math, each passenger cost the taxpayer $9 each to screen but were charged $12.50. That's a net profit of $3.50 per passenger resulting in a gain to the gov't coffers. Thus the TSA is actually turning a profit. See - Numbers are fun!

Submitted by RB on

Submitted by Edmond on Sat, 2019-03-23 19:39
How do u choose people for screening? Is the nationality a major factor for choosing?
......................................
Seems to help if they are young to young teen male.

Submitted by West Cooper on

Edmond sez - "How do u choose people for screening? Is the nationality a major factor for choosing?"

Hello Edmond, TSA screens everyone that comes through the checkpoint. There are different types of screening, but everyone is screened prior to coming through a TSA checkpoint.

TSA Blog Team

Submitted by Anonymous on

Quit whining!

Submitted by Anonymous on

Perhaps Edmond is asking how you decide which passengers to subject to invasive pat-downs that are so indistinguishable from sexual assault that you're unable to articulate any differences between the two at all.

Submitted by SSSS For Some Reason on

"...Thus the TSA is actually turning a profit. See - Numbers are fun!"

Just one more reason to shut down the TSA. Why should the government be profiting from a commercial Enterprise like air travel?

Submitted by SSSS For Some Reason on

"...but everyone is screened prior to coming through a TSA checkpoint."

Except the people who work at the airport. I know they aren't supposed to be in the passenger area, but their badges do open 'those' doors.

And cleaning crews. They don't get screened at the checkpoint. Maybe the first time through the checkpoint, but not after that.

But maybe all of that is something unique to the airports I frequent. Maybe your airport is different. We can't be sure, though, because any requests for information on how things are supposed to be done are met with notices of how all the rules are SSI and we should't be asking.

Submitted by Susan Richart on

"Submitted by Anonymous on Tue, 2019-03-26 12:34
Perhaps Edmond is asking how you decide which passengers to subject to invasive pat-downs that are so indistinguishable from sexual assault that you're unable to articulate any differences between the two at all."

Bingo!

Submitted by Susan Richart on

West Cooper wrote...."but everyone is screened prior to coming through a TSA checkpoint."

Untrue, West. Passengers are screened during passage through a checkpoint, not prior to come through it.

Submitted by Tom on

What happened to the table of what was found at which airports? I am wondering also.

Submitted by Charleen Haynes on

My daughter is a competitive fencer. Can she take her fencing equipment onboard in a bag? I would hate to check it and have it damaged!!

Submitted by Not RB on

Nope. Not if they are swords.

Submitted by SSSS For Some Reason on

Submitted by Not RB on Tue, 2019-04-09 11:49
Nope. Not if they are swords.

Or if the Agent uses their discretion to say they can't fly. Because that is one of the possible outcomes.