BREAKING: New Threat to Aviation Security Identified

Having declared victory in the War on Water, with no more liquids greater than 3 ounces allowed beyond the security checkpoint, the next front in the battle to keep the skies safe from Terrorism and Other Threats is going to have to be stopping the existential risks posed by two inch plastic toy guns that come with children’s toys. Or something.

Thank goodness for the quick work of the TSA!

Yesterday at approximately 17:00 hours, a one Mr. Rooster Monkburn was successfully disarmed when a TSA agent confiscated the monkey sock puppet’s two-inch, vaguely gun-shaped piece of plastic—and then threatened to call the police.

“She said ‘this is a gun,'” said May. “I said no, it’s not a gun it’s a prop for my monkey.”

…”She took my monkey’s gun.”

The TSA has issued a statement.

“TSA officers are dedicated to keeping the nation’s transportation security systems safe and secure for the traveling public. Under longstanding aircraft security policy, and out of an abundance of caution, realistic replicas of firearms are prohibited in carry-on bags.”

As they say, a few bad apples who in no way undermine the hard work that thousands of men and women at the TSA do to keep us safe, day in and day out.

(HT: Randy Barnett)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. The key words are “REALISTIC REPLICAS” which in this case the item is not. I too applaud the work of the TSA. But they should remember “NEVER LET A RULE STAND IN THE WAY OF COMMON SENSE”

  2. BREAKING: another TSA-bashing post on this blog.

    Not that the TSAs policy on this plastic toy is very sensible, and I am no TSA apologist, but to see the constant TSA bashing on this blog is tiresome and uneven.

    What’s worse, is the poor judgment and poor taste to keep on the TSA bashing when I can’t remember this blog even acknowledging the murder of a TSA employee at LAX by a (terrorist, in my opinion) gunman a few weeks ago.

  3. @AS I’m not sure that ‘constant’ bashing is really a fair characterization, when was my last post critical of TSA? It’s been a month and a half since I posted about TSA court filings (acknowledging their own threat estimates)

    I went on radio lamenting the killing of a TSA agent. That was a sad tragedy. It has nothing to do with the issue of flight security. It could have happened anywhere to anyone and indeed does, which is sad. Thankfully more were not injured.

  4. Yes, this is a funny and extreme example, but would you rather the TSA agents have to make individual determinations on what is or is not a “realistic replica” or even in fact a “replica” at all? I do not expect TSA agents to be firearms experts and therefore giving them simple, inflexible, and easy to follow instructions seems to me to be a solution that errs on the side of the public safety. I am not a TSA apologist but I do know a thing or two about regulations and policy, and in this case I’d think you would want something with few loopholes and little gray area.

  5. Hey Gary, can you officially change the name of your blog now? The view from the right wing really suits it.

  6. CW, the rule already says that the TSA officers have to make individual determinations on what is or is not a “realistic replica”. Replicas are not self-declared as realistic or not.

    I don’t care if you are a weapons expert or a 3rd-grader, a 2-INCH GUN is as much a realistic replica of a gun as my kid’s iPad.

    The fraud of the whole thing is that this confiscation will be reported as part of statistics to Congress of “threats neutralized”.

  7. @aviators99,

    +1. This is exactly the sort of “crisis averted” bs that will be reported and possibly facilitate yet another bloated govt agency become even bigger.

  8. @Haldami – you say that quite often here but I honestly don’t get it. Since when was being concerned about civil liberties a uniquely or even predominantly right wing concern?

  9. If thinking it’s absurd that a 2 inch plastic monkey gun replica was confiscated is right-wing lunacy, then call me William Buckley

    People are so obsessed with Gary’s politics that there’s already been about 4 comments that have essentially gone “yes you are correct Gary, this is ridiculously absurd, but….”

    Why can’t it just be “this is absurd. Period”?

  10. For the record (since a comment thread on a travel blog naturally counts as “the record”), I’m pretty far to the left but applaud and appreciate Gary using his megaphone to expose the frauds/abuses of the TSA.

    Believing in the power of government doesn’t mean believing in government powers, if that makes sense.

  11. I think in the last year the TSA has taken some great steps to improve the security experience – expanding if pre-check, removal of backscatters, relaxing of the knife regulations (which was thwarted by the airlines and congress).

    They have a policy against any replica firearms. So why is the person following it a “bad apple”?

  12. The toy gun confiscation probably wasn’t necessary, but what if TSA had been that vigilant on 9/11? There were only four “bad apples” flying that day. Until terrorists are completely gone (and they never will be) I have no problem with TSA grabbing my crotch, making me go through million dollar explosive-detecting machines “against my will”, or whatever seems to offend someone on a particular day, if it saves four planes from crashing into buildings again. TSA isn’t perfect, but they’re doing their best to keep us as safe as any large bureaucratic agency run by the U.S. government is able to do.

    I love your blog Gary, but I wish you’d just stay to things travel-related, as you’re better at that than any of us are able to do 🙂

  13. “The toy gun confiscation probably wasn’t necessary, but what if TSA had been that vigilant on 9/11?”

    What did the security do wrong on 9/11? Nothing got by that wasn’t allowed at the time to get by.

    No one is suggesting there’s anything wrong with banning knives or ACTUAL weapons

    It’s the absurd policies (see: toy replica 2 inch gun belonging to a stuffed monkey), arbitrary rules that don’t really increase safety, and the wholly unqualified (as far as security is concerned) employees at the TSA that generally get rapped upon

  14. bo, essentially you are saying that your definition of the “right sort” of vigilance is to confiscate a 2-INCH plastic toy, while allowing all sorts of non-gun-shaped-much-larger-than-2-INCH-potential-explosive-vessels on the planes. The fact that no planes were exploded that day has absolutely zero to do with that type of vigilance.

    And Gary, I want a recount. I believe I won the thread with comment #9

  15. What is troubling and sad about this story is that that same TSA agent is having to make “judgment calls” every day about what is safe and unsafe……this shows the level of intelligence that these agents are possessed with…..the Army calls them Cat-4’s and they are the most intelligent challenged of our citizens……this is not no much as bashing as just statements of fact……..On Sept 11 I deputized my two sons and myself in a swearing in ceremony in our basement and gave explicit instructions on how to respond aka Flight 93……obviously other passengers also did this swearing in ceremony as Richard Reid found out in 2001. These deputies who al queda knows full well exist do more to deter terrorism that the above mentioned gate agents………and there are a lot more of us than than there are Richard Reid’s………..

  16. Am I the only one picturing a potential Austin Powers scene, where a hijacker uses this two inch fluffy “gun” and the pilots and air hostesses burst out laughing, not taking the hijacker seriously?

  17. @Haldami Your use of Gary’s political position (whether he’s left/right/independent doesn’t matter AT ALL by the way) as a defense mechanism is pretty sad. Reminds me of people that call you ‘racist’ when they have nothing to contribute to the debate at hand.

  18. Keep preaching, Gary! This is security theater at it’s finest. Also, I love the TSA statement. Just once would I love an actual human statement from a government agency or corporation, instead of meaningless babble.

  19. I’ve seen this story, and I have yet to find an independent source confirming. Does anyone have an actual link to the TSA statement (on their website)? or other independent source (not the KING story that is just quoting hearsay). I think this may be a hoax.

  20. OK Hell is freezing over, I’m gonna actually say – they acted correctly in **this** case. (Ow, that pains me to say out loud.)

    Anyway, I read this article elsewhere- and in the comments it was pointed out there are working little tiny guns that are even smaller than this one.

    Here is a link to a story about it:–just-TWO-inches-long.html

    Just sayin’.

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