Friday, February 26, 2016

TSA Week in Review: February 19 - 25

Discovered 55 firearms

Fifty-five firearms were discovered this week in carry-on bags around the nation. Of the 55 firearms discovered, 50 were loaded and 26 had a round chambered. All of the firearms pictured were discovered last week. See a complete list below.

Discovered a replica grenade tobacco grinder with a small amount of marijuan inside

If an item looks like a real bomb, grenade, mine, etc., it is prohibited. When these items are found at a checkpoint or in checked baggage, they can cause significant delays because our explosives detection professionals must respond to resolve the alarm. Even if they are novelty items, you are prohibited from bringing them on board the aircraft. A replica grenade tobacco grinder with a small amount of marijuana was detected in a carry-on bag at Sacramento (SMF).

Discovered firearm components, realistic replica firearms, bb and pellet guns, airsoft guns, brass knuckles, ammunition, batons, stun guns, small pocketknives and many other prohibited items
Clockwise from the top, these items were discovered in carry-on bags at PDX, SAN, TUS, CHO, LGA, JAN, DHN, CMH and AUS.

In addition to all of the other prohibited items we find weekly in carry-on bags, our officers also regularly find firearm components, realistic replica firearms, bb and pellet guns, airsoft guns, brass knuckles, ammunition, batons, stun guns, small pocketknives and many other prohibited items too numerous to note.

Firearms Discovered in Carry-On Bags chart
You can travel with your firearms in checked baggage, but they must first be declared to the airline.

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 line is slowed down and a passenger that likely had no ill intent ends up with a citation or in some cases is even arrested. The passenger can face a penalty as high as $11,000. 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 order to provide a timely weekly update, this data is compiled from a preliminary report. The year-end numbers will vary slightly from what is reported in the weekly updates. However, any monthly, midyear or end-of-year numbers TSA provides on this blog or elsewhere will be actual numbers and not estimates.

Read our 2015 Year in Review post! If you haven’t read them yet, make sure you check out our year in review posts for 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014.

Follow @TSA on Twitter and Instagram!

Bob Burns
TSA Social Media Team

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

@AskTSA Travel Tips In Over 140 Characters: Traveling While Wearing a Turban

The @AskTSA team received this tweet yesterday via @TSA and we’d like to take some time to address it on our blog.
A screen capture of an @TSA message

TSA officers receive periodic training regarding cultural and religious sensitivities. When additional screening is needed that requires the removal of religious apparel, our officers offer private screening and request the passenger remove the item. 

In regard to this passenger’s turban, TSA officers were required to complete additional screening due to an explosives trace detection alarm The officers offered him private screening, which he accepted. In a private screening area, the passenger was asked to remove his turban and he complied. After determining that there was no threat, the passenger was allowed to put his turban back on and requested a mirror. As there was no mirror in the private screening room, he was advised of a restroom down the hall with mirrors.

The officers followed procedure correctly and the passenger was screened with respect. We have reached out to the passenger to discuss his concerns.

Current screening procedures for head coverings are in part based on discussions with representatives of the Sikh community. All members of the traveling public are allowed to wear head coverings (whether religious or otherwise) through security checkpoints. All persons wearing head coverings may be subject to additional security screening, which may include an officer-conducted or traveler self-conducted pat-down.

We do this to ensure that prohibited items or weapons are not concealed beneath any type of clothing and brought onto an aircraft. This policy covers all headwear and is not directed at any one particular item or group. We recommend that passengers remove non-formfitting headwear before proceeding through the security checkpoint, but recognize that passengers may be unable or unwilling to remove items for religious, medical, or other reasons. In that case, they should expect to undergo additional screening protocols.

Additionally, religious knives, swords and other objects are not permitted through the security checkpoint and must be packed in checked baggage. We recommend that passengers inform our officers if they have religious, cultural or ceremonial items that may require special handling.

The primary purpose of passenger screening is to prevent deadly or dangerous items from entering the secured area of an airport or onboard an aircraft. Our policies and procedures focus on ensuring that all passengers are treated with dignity, respect and courtesy.

 From If you are wearing head coverings, you may undergo additional security screening including a pat-down. A pat-down will be conducted by a TSA officer of the same gender. If an alarm cannot be resolved through a pat-down, you may ask to remove the head covering in a private screening area. We ask that you please inform our officers if you have religious, cultural and ceremonial items that require special handling.

Ask TSA iconIf you’re scratching your head and wondering what @AskTSA is, it’s a small team of TSA professionals from various agency offices who answer TSA related questions from the traveling public that are sent via Twitter. You can read more about the program in this recent USA Today article.

You may also wish to consult with your airline about any policies they may have regarding the item (s) you’d like to travel with.

If you have any TSA related travel questions, please send a tweet to our @AskTSA team. They’re available to answer your questions, 8 a.m.- 10 p.m., Eastern Time, weekdays; 9 a.m. -7 p.m., weekends/holidays. 

Follow @TSA on Twitter and Instagram! 

Bob Burns
TSA Social Media Team