Friday, February 3, 2012

TSA Week in Review: Coral Covered Explosively Viable Cannonball

Cannonball, cattle prod, lipstick knife, inert grenades and firearm components.
Cannonball: A cannonball was discovered in checked baggage at Ft Lauderdale (FLL). Nothing malicious here, just a diver who found the old projectile near a 1750-1800 era shipwreck. It was determined that the coral covered cannonball was explosively viable which triggered an evacuation of the checked baggage area and a visit from a TSA explosives specialist and a Broward County bomb tech. Cannonballs found on the ocean floor can retain their explosives and have been known to detonate on their own. The bomb tech took possession of the item for further identification, diagnostics, and safe disposal. Three flights were delayed affecting 290 passengers. Cannonballs are created to damage and destroy things, but I doubt its creators had any clue that it would destroy people’s schedules hundreds of years later.

 “Beefed” up Stun Gun: Holy cow!!! A cattle prod was discovered during the search of a carry-on bag at Baltimore (BWI) Moooving right along…

Cutting Edge Cosmetics: A lipstick knife was found in a passenger’s carry-on bag at Denver (DEN).

Grenades Again?: This time they were inert practice grenades packed along with seven M16 magazines and other gear at San Diego (SAN). I know, you’re probably wondering what harm an inert grenade could do. Actually, no harm at all to your well being, but it can put a kink in your scheduled due to closed checkpoints and baggage areas. Read here and here  for more information on grenades.

Miscellaneous Prohibited Items: In addition to all of the other prohibited items we find weekly, our officers also found stun guns, brass knuckles, knives, knives, and more knives, firearm components, ammunition, and expandable batons.
9 loaded guns.
Firearms: Our officers found 14 loaded firearms and 5 unloaded firearms in carry-on baggage since I posted last Friday. Here’s a rundown of the 19 firearms our officers kept off of airplanes this week: 

1/27: TUL – Loaded .38 – TUL – Loaded .380
1/28: BWI – Unloaded firearm
1/29: DFW – Loaded .380 – ATL – Unloaded .22
1/30: LAS – Loaded 9mm w/ round chambered – COS – Unloaded .22 – AUS – Loaded .25 – DTW – Loaded .380 w/ round chambered – TOL – Loaded .380 – IAH – Loaded .32
1/31: MSP – Loaded 9mm
2/1: JAX – Loaded 9mm – PHX – Loaded .40 w/ round chambered
2/2: AUS – Unloaded .22 – IND – Loaded .380 – BNA – Loaded .357 – MCO – Loaded .25 – IAH – Unloaded .40

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
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