Friday, February 10, 2012

TSA Week in Review: Fantasy Knives and More Cannonballs

Cannonballs, grenade launcher, knives, throwing star, inert grenades.
More Cannonballs: Two cannonballs and an antique firearm were discovered at Kahului (OGG). Now this song is stuck in my head.

Fantasy Knives: Two knives (see photo) were discovered at John F Kennedy (JFK). These knives come in handy when slaying various mythological creatures, but these creatures don’t exist on planes or elsewhere for that matter. 

No Good Knives In Cancun?: A 7” kitchen knife was discovered in a bag at Denver (DEN). The passenger stated they brought the knife because there are “no good knives in Cancun.”

Kukri Knife: Also known as the “Gurkha Blade,” this Nepalese knife is used as both a tool and a weapon. While it has been approved for the battlefield, it’s not permitted to travel in your carry-on baggage. This particular knife was found at Washington – Reagan (DCA).

Grenades: Two inert grenades were found this week at Colorado Springs (COS) and my old workplace, Cincinnati (CVG). Read here and here  for more information on why inert grenades cause problems at checkpoints.

Grenade Launcher: Yes, you read correctly, a grenade launcher was discovered during a search in checked baggage at Seattle Tacoma (SEA). It’s not as ominous as it sounds though. There were no grenades with the item. It’s not every day you come across a grenade launcher, so I just had to mention it. 

Miscellaneous Prohibited Items: In addition to all of the other prohibited items we find weekly, our officers also found stun guns, brass knuckles, realistic replica firearms, knives, knives, and more knives, firearm components, ammunition, and expandable batons and blackjacks.

8 loaded guns.
Firearms: Our officers found 14 loaded firearms and 9 unloaded firearms in carry-on baggage since I posted last Friday. Here’s a rundown of the 23 firearms our officers kept off of airplanes this week: 

2/3: LFT – Loaded .45 w/ round chambered – ABQ – Loaded .380 w/ round chambered – SLC – Loaded .380
2/4: MCO – Loaded .380 – FLO – Loaded .38 – GNV – Unloaded .38
2/5: ATL – Unloaded .380 – ABQ – Loaded .40 w/ round chambered
2/6: HSV – Loaded .380 w/ round chambered – PIT – Unloaded .22 – PHX – Unloaded .380 – MCI – Loaded .380
2/7: DEN – Loaded .22 – LAS – Loaded .40 – AUS – Loaded .380 – ATL – Loaded .380 w/ round chambered
2/8: OGG – Antique firearm – DAL – Unloaded .38 – IAH – Unloaded .38
2/9: IND – Loaded firearm w/ round chambered – TPA – Unloaded .22 – DFW – Unloaded 9mm – RDU – Loaded .38
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. We also look for explosives and bomb components, but thankfully those are extremely rare and we're happy to keep it that way.

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 in their bag. That’s why it’s important to double check your luggage before you get to the airport.

Including checkpoint and checked baggage screening, TSA has 20 layers of security both visible and invisible to the public. Each one of these layers alone is capable of stopping a terrorist attack. In combination their security value is multiplied, creating a much stronger, formidable system. A terrorist who has to overcome multiple security layers in order to carry out an attack is more likely to be pre-empted, deterred, or to fail during the attempt.  

Blogger Bob Burns  
TSA Blog Team
If you’d like to comment on an unrelated topic you can do so in our Off Topic Comments post. You can also view our blog post archives or search our blog to find a related topic to comment in. If you have a travel related issue or question that needs an immediate answer, you can contact a Customer Support Manager at the airport you traveled, or will be traveling through by using Talk to TSA.
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32 comments:

Terrence said...

This is a serious question: Why are people allowed to travel with bowling balls (up to 3 according to us airways) but not cannon balls? From a threat prospective, I think a bowling ball is more dangerous because it is easily thrown.

Anonymous said...

You all realize that cannon balls are projectiles, not explosives, right? AKA inert metal. See also: non explosive.

Anonymous said...

Bob:
You are falling into the uneducated liberal reporter trap of "any armored vehicle with tracks is a tank". An egregious example of this behavior is exemplified by the tendency of ULRs to refer to the M-103 a 'tank' or MBT when it is an APC.

Without pictures, the validity of your "find" can't be determined.

Now, the only way the object in the center of your "guns found in carry on baggage" could be considered a "gun" is if anything with the word "pistol" in its name is considered a "gun". That device would appear to be a variant of a VERY PISTOL, also known as a "signal flare launcher", originally developed by the British and copied around the world.

"Grenade Launcher." From BATFE regulations, unless that device had a bore of 40mm or greater it is legally considered a "flare launcher" and not a destructive device. Also, a GL or FL sans ammo is relatively useless. As GL's are FFL devices, and FL's are not, the are really four options here:

1. Someone acquired a stolen GL (US military). If so, why were they not arrested.
2. Someone packed an Airsoft(tm) type launcher in their checked bags, which is legally not required to be declared to the airlines as it is a "toy" and not a "weapon". Airsoft(tm) can be considered "big boys paintball".
3. A 37mm bore SOLAS flare launcher sans ammo, again not a weapon, was foolishly packed in someone's checked baggage instead of in a weapons case.
4. Someone who is unable to differentiate between a grenade launcher, a flare launcher, and a Very Pistol needs to retake their firearms class.

Caveat: SOLAS: Safety Of Life At Sea. Yes, 37mm flare launchers are used as signal devices in the maritime fleets.

Anonymous said...

Still nothing about the insulin pump fiasco.

Anonymous said...

I think it is important to add the following to this Week in Review:

It was reported yesterday that a Denver woman was denied flight because the TSA had sent all women agents home. Not only did she miss her flight, she had to rent a car for $165 and drive 350 miles back to Denver.

Anonymous said...

" Terrence said...
This is a serious question: Why are people allowed to travel with bowling balls (up to 3 according to us airways) but not cannon balls? From a threat prospective, I think a bowling ball is more dangerous because it is easily thrown.

February 10, 2012 7:34 PM"
-----------
Hmmm, let's see now. Could it be because cannon balls could potentially explode? AND I hardly see many people whippin those "easy to throw" bowling balls around in a plane!

Anonymous said...

"You all realize that cannon balls are projectiles, not explosives, right? AKA inert metal. See also: non explosive.

February 10, 2012 8:56 PM"
----------
Some do (or did)contain explosives.

Anonymous said...

"AND I hardly see many people whippin those "easy to throw" bowling balls around in a plane!"

How many people do you see with cannon balls?

Anonymous said...

When are you going to tell us how the TSA behaved appropriately with the passenger being treated with the insulin pump?

Was she late for her flight? Was the pump in a mason jar that caused the crack TSO staff to question its authenticity?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
"Hmmm, let's see now. Could it be because cannon balls could potentially explode? AND I hardly see many people whippin those "easy to throw" bowling balls around in a plane!"

And how exactly can you tell that a bowling ball is a real bowling ball and not a really large chunk of explosives made to look like a bowling ball?

The TSA is only looking for stuff that *looks* like a bomb. If it looks like a normal object they won't find it.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
"Some do (or did)contain explosives."

No, to be correct a cannonball is inert and does not contain explosives. A shell contains explosives.

If they object was a actually an explosive shell then they need to describe it properly. You would think that someone who is supposed to be trained to detect explosive devices would know the difference.

Anonymous said...

And, as always, not a single terrorist or person intending to do any harm to anyone in the lot. And nothing that required invasive radiation exposure to find, either. Why can't you tell the truth, Curtis?

RB said...

OK, I say fine on stopping cannon balls, handguns, and such but why does TSA censor 33% of all comments submitted to the TSA Blog?

Anonymous said...

I have atwo questions actually? First what happens to the items that are confiscated? Can I purchase them? Second, is how do I go about applying for a job with the TSA? Despite all the negativity, i feel that the TSA is doing a good job.

RB said...

Anonymous said...
I have atwo questions actually? First what happens to the items that are confiscated? Can I purchase them? Second, is how do I go about applying for a job with the TSA? Despite all the negativity, i feel that the TSA is doing a good job.

February 13, 2012 11:32 AM
...................
Desperate, eh?

If you must USAJOBS.GOV.

Unknown said...

You should check out Salon's blog where he demonstrated how easy it is to fake a boarding pass and carry prohibited items.

He didn't do anything illegal of course (such as carry guns)

He only did things like carry too much tooth paste or too much water and more often then not got away with it or the guard threw the items out but still allowed the said passenger to board the airplane without a strip search or any kind of secondary search let alone do a hard check of his boarding pass.

Several times the guy faked losing his ID and surprisingly he was still able to board after saying the right things to whatever guard is stationed present.





It's seriously bad news when the government is afraid of it's VERY OWN PEOPLE which is NOT what the country was founded upon.

Most of our forefathers are likely rolling in their graves at this TSA treatment.

Unknown said...

Also Salon's airplane blog he is a pilot and can answer a lot of questions about airplane safety.

You can learn a lot of neat airplane facts that go on in the world of a pilot who believes in his rights as a citizen of America.


The biggest and only improvement to security is and always will be the ARMORED DOORS to the cockpit AND MORE AWARE passengers that will likely stand up to a future attack (assuming the attacks were real in the first place and NOT military drones) but that's another topic for another blog.

Unknown said...

I am not sure if I was clear in all my anger but when I was describing Salon's blog I forgot to mention his blog is called *Ask The Pilot*

Where people can chime in questions and he does various topics.

Anonymous said...

"If they object was a actually an explosive shell then they need to describe it properly. You would think that someone who is supposed to be trained to detect explosive devices would know the difference."

In fairness, the people who run the blog were formerly TSOs, not people trained to detect explosives. Thus, the confusion between a cupcake and a bomb.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Some do (or did)contain explosives.

No, they don't. Shells can. Cannon balls do not. You've watched too many pirate movies.

Anonymous said...

you can apply for TSA at usajobs.gov

Anonymous said...

Don't give the TSA any ideas about Bowling Balls... they already banned Snow-Globes.

TSORon said...

Anonymous said...
[[You all realize that cannon balls are projectiles, not explosives, right? AKA inert metal. See also: non explosive.]]

I love these Wikipedia scholars. Actually Anon, Shrapnel or spherical case shot has as explosive charge in it designed to rupture the casing of the sphere and create shrapnel. Often these particular cannon balls also contained “grape shot”, or smaller solid iron projectiles that were released when the case was ruptured and were designed to cause great damage to the opposing forces. Sort of like current day anti-personal mines or shotgun shells. The old round iron cannon balls you are talking about were early projectiles and had limited effect since the area of damage was limited to the path of the projectile alone, and of course the shattering of anything they struck. On board ships they would often create large splinters of wood that would do damage to the crew and some cargo.

Anonymous said...

"I love these Wikipedia scholars."

At least they do some research. The situation you describe, while somewhat accurate, cannot describe the "cannonball" in question.

"Actually Anon, Shrapnel or spherical case shot has as explosive charge in it designed to rupture the casing of the sphere and create shrapnel. Often these particular cannon balls also contained “grape shot”, or smaller solid iron projectiles that were released when the case was ruptured and were designed to cause great damage to the opposing forces."

And this type of shell came into use in the early 19th century, seeing its first use against Napolean by the British. The technology was rapidly adopted by all hands, although the Spanish were slow to adopt it.

Now, I understand you're not a scholar - google or otherwise - but it was approximately 1815 plus or minus that this type of shell was deployed by ground forces.

The adoption of this type of shell for maritime warfare lagged this by 5-10 years.


"Sort of like current day anti-personal mines or shotgun shells."

Somewhat like older anti-personnel mines but nothing like a shotgun shell.

"The old round iron cannon balls you are talking about were early projectiles and had limited effect since the area of damage was limited to the path of the projectile alone, and of course the shattering of anything they struck."

Given that the story says the cannonball came from 1750-1800, the cannonball was exactly that. It is impossible that it was a cannon shell unless the TSA now fears time-travelling, scuba diving terrorists.

I don't mind the TSA being careful in a situation like this but I definitely dislike the lack of technical accuracy by a government organization that assures us how capable it is.

Anonymous said...

"I love these Wikipedia scholars. Actually Anon, Shrapnel or spherical case shot has as explosive charge in it designed to rupture the casing of the sphere and create shrapnel."

And I love screener scholars. You realize that nothing you say here contradicts what you quoted, correct? Cannon are capable of firing balls and shells.

JB said...

Is it ok to bring speed skating skates on as a carry on?

Anonymous said...

"Is it ok to bring speed skating skates on as a carry on?"

The official position of the TSA:

Yes.
No.
Maybe.

Call ahead.

Count on us as a crack security force.

Anonymous said...

JB said...
"Is it ok to bring speed skating skates on as a carry on?"

Flip a coin, it's as good as asking.

It doesn't make any difference what they tell you ahead of time, the screener at the checkpoint will do whatever they want.

TSORon said...

Anonymous said…
[[And I love screener scholars. You realize that nothing you say here contradicts what you quoted, correct? Cannon are capable of firing balls and shells.]]

Actually anon, it completely contradicts what the previous poster had to say. Not all cannon balls were created equal, many had explosives in them. Cannons of the day were capable of firing several different types of shells, including ones that explode because of an explosive charge contained inside, and the first generation of these exploding shells were round balls just like you might find in an old movie, or a history museum. Hardly “inert” I’d say. And the history lesson from the other anon has absolutely nothing to do with the subject at hand, interesting though it may have been.

It’s not so much the iron ball that concerns us (even if we could see into them, our x-ray systems don’t have that kind of power), it’s the explosive that the ball may contain, and the damage it could do to a commercial aircraft in flight. Or on the ground for that matter. We would much prefer that people left their cannon balls at home, or found some other method of getting them to their destination.

Anonymous said...

"Cannons of the day were capable of firing several different types of shells, including ones that explode because of an explosive charge contained inside, and the first generation of these exploding shells were round balls just like you might find in an old movie, or a history museum. "

Ron, you're not paying attention. Unless it was a magical, time-traveling cannon shell, it's not explosive. The story dated it at 1750-1800. Explosive cannon shells were not invented until 1804 but didn't come into general or naval use until significantly later.

So which is it, Ron: Was the dating of the object wrong or did the TSA overreact again?

"It’s not so much the iron ball that concerns us (even if we could see into them, our x-ray systems don’t have that kind of power), it’s the explosive that the ball may contain"

Again, not possible if the other information is correct. Given the TSA's history, I'll admit there's a large likelihood of TSA error.

Or on the ground for that matter. We would much prefer that people left their cannon balls at home, or found some other method of getting them to their destination."

And we would prefer that TSA provide serious, substantive security, with screeners that can tell the difference between a cupcake or water bottle and an explosive. I'll possibly grant you the cannonball - that's beyond the capability of the screener cadre - but if found to be inert, TSA should have shipped the artifact, at no cost, to the owner.

When do we get a professional security service? I believe it will take privatization.

Known said...

So, what's with the insulin pump thing?

Anonymous said...

No a cannonball can contain explosive properties and at least one death was reported of a collector restoring a 9 in 75 lbs naval cannonball which exploded killing him and projecting iron schards into his house 75 yds away. Though most intact cannonballs that have explosive properties are duds it's best to play it safe and handle with extreme caution.