Friday, September 14, 2012

TSA Week in Review: Gunpowder Discovered in Boston

GunpowderGunpowder was discovered in a checked bag at Boston (BOS) while Officers were resolving an Explosive Detection System (EDS) alarm.


Items in the Strangest Places –It’s important to check your bags prior to traveling. If a prohibited item is discovered in your bag, you could be cited and possibly arrested by law enforcement. Here are a few examples from this week where prohibited items were found in strange places.
  • A pocketknife was discovered in a shoe at Salt Lake City (SLC).
  • Using a body scanner, Officers discovered an 8 oz. bottle of vodka discovered in a passengers pants at Nashville (BNA).
GrenadesInert Grenades Etc. – We continue to find hand grenades and other weaponry on weekly basis. Please keep in mind that if something looks like a bomb, grenade, mine, etc., it is prohibited - real or not. When these items are found at a checkpoint, they can cause significant delays. I know they are cool novelty items, but it is best not to take them on a plane.  Read here and here on why inert items cause problems.
  • A belt buckle in the shape of a hand grenade slowed down operations at Kona (KOA) while we went through the proper steps to ensure it wasn’t a live grenade.
  • 4 inert grenades were discovered in a carry-on bags at Denver (DEN), Salt Lake City (SLC), Tulsa (TUL), and Houston (IAH).
Stun Guns – 6 stun guns were discovered in carry-on bags at checkpoints around the nation: Chicago O’Hare (ORD), 3 at Baltimore (BWI), Chicago Midway (MDW), Denver (DEN)

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, bb and pellet guns, Airsoft guns, 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.

Loaded Guns
Loaded Guns


31 guns discovered at TSA checkpoints.

Loaded Guns























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.


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

43 comments:

Anonymous said...

who are these people carrying all these and causing delays and safety risks for other passengers ? Are they put behind bars. It seems like many of them do such acts just to prove that they were able to sneak in such prohibited items or items that look alike through the airport ...a story to tell their buddies in town.Even such acts should be seriously dealt with as it causes unnecessary tension and delays.

Anonymous said...

Having grown up in an era when every boy carried a pocket knife (on a farm) , I still do carry one as does a good friend--when they found he had a pocketknife they were going to take it & he didn't want to lose a good knife. Fortunately one of the TSA people was older & suggested that he step around the corner to a PO & mail the knife back home to himself--which he did--& then he returned & thanked the employee. I wonder if most of the employees are this considerate?

Anonymous said...

Sure looks like TSA is reusing the same pictures of guns, over and over.

Mike Ryan said...

I no longer fly anywhere. I will not subject my wife or myself to the overbearing, unreasonable, intrusive security measures the TSA performs. We just take more time, and drive where we go, and never ever travel internationally. I do not appreciate being treated as if I were a criminal suspect and having to worry about whether I'm carrying too much toothpaste, mouthwash or shampoo in my carry on baggage. I am not prepared to surrender my civil rights for the so called privilege of sitting in a tiny, cramped, uncomfortable seat and not even being allowed to bring my own food and beverages for all those tedious hours. I know the government thinks it is "protecting" me, but let me take responsibility for my own safety. Those of us who are law abiding citizens and have expertise in handling firearms should be allowed to obtain a permit to carry a weapon aboard commercial aircraft; if there had been legally armed citizens on the airplanes eleven years ago, thousands of Americans would still be alive and the World Trade Center towers would still be standing. Even if only the pilots had been armed, the disaster would probably have been avoided. Scrutinizing eighty year old grandmothers isn't the way to ensure passenger safety, and until the TSA comes to that realization, there are those of us who will simply use alternative means of travel.

Anonymous said...

Let me give my own account of the TSA taking measures to ensure mine & everyone elses' safety...Christmas Day 2010, Oklahoma City, 5" of snow on the ground with a windchill of -10. I was flying to AZ for Spine Surgery & knowing the vast temperature change once I landed in AZ, I decided to wear a pull-on sweater, with a collared short sleeve underneath, so once I arrived to a warmer climate, I could easily remove the sweater. Bad idea! I was searched not once, but 3 times & even went through the walk-thru detector. The reason I was told? I had a tight-fitting sweater on. That's all I was told. I guess because mother nature blessed me with more than I need up top, they thought I was smuggling items in my bra...nope! There was nothing in my bra that wasn't supposed to be there..lol! Was I angry & upset? No! I would rather the TSA personnel take the extra precautions than "just assume" there was nothing extra hiding in my bra, because the next tight sweatered person that approaches the check point may be intending to do harm...and I'd much rather it be prevented & dealt with on the ground, than 30k in the air!! Just a footnote: that was the 1st time I'd ever flown...and despite the long lines, scanners, etc...it didn't stop me from flying again! Thank you TSA for doing your job to keep your passengers safe!!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous

Are these passengers in their right minds taking these items on an airplane, thanks to the TSA for a job well done..
TSA should put them on the no fly list and also keep them behind bars.. never know what their intentions are.

Anonymous said...

What is it these people don't understand about the word "No"? I haven't flown much recently, but I went to a trade show in Las Vegas, leaving from Seattle. I was carrying a laptop in a backpack with some assorted computer gear in it. The TSA guy in Seattle saw that I was unfamiliar with the process of being scanned, and since I wasn't hostile or negative, he was polite and courteous in guiding me through. The same can be said about the Las Vegas TSA team - only this time I was a much more experienced traveler. Good work TSA! Nice, helpful people working hard to keep us safe. Thank you for your efforts.

exjq said...

Mike Ryan: If there were armed wannabe heroes on every flight, we would have even more dead Americans. If you think using a firearm inside an aircraft cabin is a feasible and practical defense against terrorists, then the value of your "expertise" is cast in serious doubt. Example after example show that no weapons are needed to subdue someone in a cabin, only a few ablebodied passengers and nylon zip ties.

Anonymous said...

I see no downside of having armed pilots, but determining which passengers are legally allowed to carry and also finding the ones who have criminal intentions is too tricky.

On the other hand, checked firearms can get you arrested if you have an unscheduled delay or you miss a flight and end up getting your bags returned to you somewhere you're not allowed to carry. Support HR822 for national right-to-carry reciprocity, so law-abiding citizens don't get arrested when they miss a connecting flight in NJ or NY.

Anonymous said...

It's good to see the TSA reporting body scanner statistics again. Those statistics are important to help us understand the value of this advanced technology. It thus appears that all the body scanners at all the airports in the United States, each of which costs $200,000, successfully protected aviation this week from (drum roll) one 8-ounce bottle of vodka!

That's a Success Story worth bragging about! Had the Advanced Imaging Technology not been in place, that passenger probably would have consumed the vodka, become drunk and disorderly, smashed the bottle, and possibly lacerated several passengers with the shards before being subdued. Or at the very least, the passenger might have cheated the airline out of the revenue from the sale of their own marked-up bottles of vodka.

That surely should be enough to convince the millions of people who, for whatever reason, object to the scanners that the machines truly are worth the expense, the unknowable risk of radiation exposure, the loss of privacy, and the risk to their belongings, from which the screening procedure separates them.

I hope the TSOs at BNA toasted their triumph with a well-deserved shot of that vodka!

And let's see.... they found 31 guns. (They could have been found using the measures in place before 9/11, without the "enhancements" of nude-o-scopes, patdowns, or arrogant officers bellowing "Do you want to fly today?" But that's beside the point.)

The TSA's 30% detection rate in objective tests means the 103 guns they failed to detect (87 loaded, 16 unloaded) got onto airplanes at those airports. Oddly, despite all those guns carried onto planes, there were no reports of hijackings during the week.

If the TSA is trying to convince us that these weekly successes justify spending billions of dollars to deprive passengers of their civil liberties, privacy, and bodily integrity, I don't think they're succeeding.

But at least the TSA is showing they're doing something. And doing something, of course, matters much more than whether that "something" is either effective or provides good value for money. Great work, TSA!

CJ said...

THANK GOODNESS FOR THE TSA IN DISCOVERING THAT WEAPON OF MASS INTOXICATION!!! America if forever indebted to those that seek to rid the skies of those 8oz bottles of liquid weaponry. I may start flying again knowing the TSA is capable of findng such dangerous products as soda and alcohol. And if it were Russian vodka, we'd all most surely be dead.

CJ said...

Where ate these fictitious "examples" you cite?

Anonymous said...

Mike Ryan- I'm so glad you have chosen to drive instead of fly. I would not want to be on a plane with you when a gunfight breaks out. Weapons have no place on an airplane. Flying is a privilege not a right. And with all privileges there are restrictions. Don't you remember 9/11? TSA and the federal restrictions were created to prevent another 9/11 and so far they have. Go TSA!! Keep up the excellent work you do!!

Anonymous said...

Given the central role that the city played in the American Revolution, there is a certain irony in you trumpeting "Gunpowder Discovered in Boston!!!"

analyst216 said...

firing a weapon in a plane can have many consequences. one must be properly trained in tactical situations as well as the structure of the particular plane they are in. a bullet in the wrong place can bring the plane down even without depressurization. also, without the proper ammunition people may wind up shot as well as the terrorist. what if the person is only an emotionally disturbed person; do you shoot them for erratic behavior because you weren't trained how to identify them? so, mike ryan, though i sympathize with your concerns please don't carry a weapon on one of the planes i fly on.

Anonymous said...

To those who are calling for people to be put behind bars for having these items...are you crazy? It's truly baffling to me that people can think that way.

Anonymous said...

"...I would rather the TSA personnel take the extra precautions than "just assume" there was nothing extra hiding in my bra, because the next tight sweatered person that approaches the check point may be intending to do harm..."

So you would be in favor of a strip search of your person? It's an extra precaution, you know, and I surely don't know what you keep in your bra.

And what in the world does wearing a tight sweater have to do with airport security? Can you please show me a study that correlates tight sweaters to terrorism?

Anonymous said...

Why do we need body scanners again? Vodka is not a threat to airline security.

Anonymous said...

I still have to question the expense and possible health issues with the body scanners. This week's big find was an 8 oz. bottle of vodka. That's not a threat to security, unless ingested and the person becomes beligerent. For some reason, that would be allowed if the vodka was divided up into 3 oz. containers and placed in a plastic bag. 8 oz in one bottle is the same as 8 oz divided into 3 bottles.

Anonymous said...

It is much more productive to find out that a passenger has ill-intent on the ground at the TSA checkpoint, then to find out in the air, isnt it. Persons do go around with " I am a terrorist " written on their foreheads people, TSA is only using what they can to make the airways safe for the travelling/flying persons, similiar to the way operations folks de-ice planes, better to prepare on the ground for emergencies than find out at 12K feet, you cant just pull over and call 911. Good job TSA

Anonymous said...

Gee. You found some vodka.

Anonymous said...

In the pictures, you show a gun labeled as being confiscated at DCA this week. However, there is no listing for a firearm seized at DCA this week in the accompanying chart.

Anonymous said...

Did the terrorists have firearms on them when they came aboard? If so - there were already firearms present in the situation. Are the mentally unstable persons you mentioned armed? If so, I beleive them to still be a threat. Remember - we (I) don't carry a firearm to kill; we (I) carry one to stay alive. When you call a cop to a situation - the trump is that he/she is armed; not because they are a great orator or have the LAW behind them. All this protection you all blindly want the government to provide for you is just a nice studded collar that looks pretty/hansom and appears to be working but ends up chaining outside to a pole when the flood waters come....blub, blub, blub.....

Anonymous said...

Some people have been cleared by the TSA to go through security without the usual search that most of us go through. Why can't more of us (especially frequent travelers) be cleared to do the same? I'm not asking to carry my gun on board. I'm OK with following the rules for checking it even though there's the risk of bag handlers taking it out of my luggage.As far as being searched and x-rayed some of us should have clearence to avoid that.

Anonymous said...

When I accidently left a corkscrew and a knife in my carry on luggage in Baltimore, the TSA agent explained where I could go to put those items in my checked luggage. Fortunately I had plenty of time and the staff at the airline baggage area were also helpful. I'm happy to have folks looking our for my safety, and yours.

Bill Horvath II said...

I'd imagine that most of the firearms TSA finds on individuals are either A) tests by security auditors, or B) carried by a CCW-licensed person who simply forgot she had her weapon before she got in line at security. I've lost more than one pocketknife that way.

Speaking of which, I think the horse has left the barn on the boxcutter/knife/pointy objects question, and TSA shouldn't be taking away blades that are legal to carry (typically under 3.5") by any citizen. Nowadays, if someone armed with a boxcutter or knife were to stand up and yell "I'm taking over the plane", they'd be attacked almost instantaneously by every non-feeble passenger in the cabin. (Never mind that they wouldn't be able to get through the cockpit door.) And I suspect it's possible to do just as much damage with a pen or knitting needles anyway, which are of course still 'legal'. Why do you (TSA) continue to use this rule?

Anonymous said...

September 13, 2012 - "A Transportation Security Administration employee was arrested on 25 counts of possessing child pornography, the Broward Sheriff’s Office said."


The TSA said in a statement, “TSA holds its security officers to the highest professional and ethical standards, both on and off the job. In cases where there are allegations of off-duty misconduct, TSA fully cooperates with law enforcement and takes appropriate action, as warranted.”


The TSA should be required to publish all arrest(s) of their "professional" employees on this weekly blog.

Anonymous said...

"Are they put behind bars."

They are not breaking a law. Why would you want to put them behind bars? Should we put people who carry a bottle of water through a screening area in jail?


"It seems like many of them do such acts just to prove that they were able to sneak in such prohibited items or items that look alike through the airport ...a story to tell their buddies in town."

Nonsense.

"Even such acts should be seriously dealt with as it causes unnecessary tension and delays."

Yes, causing tension should be a felony. Every TSA screener I ever dealt with has caused me tension. I'll send you a letter in jail!

Anonymous said...


"Are these passengers in their right minds taking these items on an airplane, thanks to the TSA for a job well done..
TSA should put them on the no fly list and also keep them behind bars.. never know what their intentions are."

No, it's people like you who should be locked up. America does NOT lock people up because we don't "know what they're intentions are."

You need to read the Constitution. It's far more valuable than your poorly paying civil service job.

Anonymous said...

"Flying is a privilege not a right"

Access to common carriage is, indeed, a right. Please stop providing disinformation in an effort to justify your low paying civil service job.

Anonymous said...

"a bullet in the wrong place can bring the plane down even without depressurization. "

Hmm. Probably need to educate yourself before putting this type of information out. Depressurization will not bring down an airplane. A bullet in the wrong place will bring down an airplane? With certainty orders of magnitude better than TSA screeners operate at, a bullet will not bring down an airplane.

But then I'm just an aircraft systems - structural and electrical engineer - not a screener trying to justify my job.

Anonymous said...

Folks traveling with guns should follow simple steps:
1. Pack 'em properly.
2. LOCK the case.
3. Declare at check in as an "item."
4. Do Not Carry-on!

What is so hard to understand about that?

Anonymous said...

Why don't you just make every passenger walk through the metal detector, get scanned with the body scanner, and get an enhanced patdown? Wouldn't that be the only way to ensure harmful nothing gets past security? Anything that keeps us safe is good, correct?

Anonymous said...

Since you can test liquids at the gate, why can't you test them at the checkpoint? Shouldn't you be testing the liquids from the airport vendors before they are served to passengers?

Anonymous said...

Since there is no picture of the gunpowder in question, I'm just going to assume that a headline more accurately depicting reality would have read: Gunpowder Residue Discovered in Boston.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
In the pictures, you show a gun labeled as being confiscated at DCA this week. However, there is no listing for a firearm seized at DCA this week in the accompanying chart.

So, the TSA is either lying, or so incompetent they can't even label a picture correctly.

Either way, it doesn't surprise me.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

In the pictures, you show a gun labeled as being confiscated at DCA this week. However, there is no listing for a firearm seized at DCA this week in the accompanying chart.

September 17, 2012 9:10 AM

__________________________________

It's because they probably just make up the numbers and locations anyway.

Anonymous said...

I understand that rules are rules, but government employees should be exempt from some. It makes little sense to penalize a person on your team.

Bob Burns (TSA Blog Team) said...

Good morning! It took me a second to figure out what happened with the DCA firearm in question.

Long story short, it's a .45 caliber that was discovered in a carry-on bag on 9-14-12. You'll see it in the spreadsheet for this week's post.

Long story --

My reports span from Friday - Thursday every week. Reason being, is that I don't get an official report of what was found on Friday until after weekend.

The photo was sent to me proactively on the day it was found (last Friday), and I assumed it was for that current week. It should have been held over for this week's report.

Thanks!

Bob Burns
TSA Blog Team

Anonymous said...

The photo was sent to me proactively on the day it was found (last Friday), and I assumed it was for that current week. It should have been held over for this week's report.

What???

This sounds like an admission that a TSA employee made an error! How can that be? For as long as this blog has existed, Bob has remained steadfastly On Message, reminding us with each post that the TSA is infallible and that its employees are incapable of error. Or if they have made errors that can't be hidden, he either reassures us that the error was inconsequential or makes the error go away by not mentioning it.

Indeed, the whole basis of the trust, blind confidence and unquestioning faith all loyal citizens have in the TSA is that the TSA is always right. It's the basis for hundreds of posts completely debunking "incidents" as outright whoppers, as time after time the TSA's thorough and unbiased investigation shows that the officers in question acted properly.

Yet here is an admission that a TSA employee-- and a high-profile one at that-- made... an error! What does this mean for aviation security, which for over a decade has relied on the indisputable fact that the TSA never makes mistakes?

I'm very worried about this distressing development.

Anonymous said...

Bob Burns (TSA Blog Team) said...
Good morning! It took me a second to figure out what happened with the DCA firearm in question.

...and Bob continues his history of down playing the facts. Original post was Sept 17. You reply was Sept 21. That's 4 DAYS, not "a second".

The photo was sent to me proactively on the day it was found (last Friday), and I assumed it was for that current week. It should have been held over for this week's report.

So, the TSA doesn't even hire people who can tell what day of the week it is?

Sounds about right.

Michael said...

It is standard procedure for the TSO to inform the passenger carrying a prohibited item that they have several options, including mailing it to themselves. Always the option is available for them to not have to dispose of their property -- unless of course there is an arrest.

TSORon said...

21 eadeemiAnonymous said...
[[Some people have been cleared by the TSA to go through security without the usual search that most of us go through. Why can't more of us (especially frequent travelers) be cleared to do the same? I'm not asking to carry my gun on board. I'm OK with following the rules for checking it even though there's the risk of bag handlers taking it out of my luggage.As far as being searched and x-rayed some of us should have clearence to avoid that.]]

You can do the same thing they did Anon, apply to one of the CBP’s Trusted Traveler programs. Below is a link that will get you started, and good luck.

http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/travel/trusted_traveler/