Monday, November 7, 2016

TSA Week in Review 10/28 - 11/6 - Flares, Guns, Black Powder, and More

Today’s report covers the last ten days as opposed to the usual seven. The Week in Review posts will now be posted on Mondays.

Discovered 94 firearms

TSA discovered 94 firearms over the last ten days in carry-on bags around the nation. Of the 94 firearms discovered, 83 were loaded and 31 had a round chambered. All of the firearms pictured were discovered in the last ten days. See a complete list below.
Discovered two cane swords

Two cane-swords were discovered this week at Dallas (DAL) and Chicago O’Hare (ORD). Most people don’t know they have a cane sword until we see it on the X-ray monitor. Watch this short video to see how you can avoid brining a cane-sword to the airport.
Discovered black power

Ten ounces of black powder was discovered in a cartridge box in a checked bag at Honolulu (HNL). Black powder is strictly prohibited from carry-on and checked bags for obvious reasons.
Discovered three inert/replica grenades

Three inert/replica grenades were discovered in carry-on bags last week at Daytona Beach (DAB), Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) and Las Vegas (LAS) (Pictured). We don’t know grenades are inert until our explosives professionals take a closer look, and that takes time and slows down the line. It can even lead to a complete shutdown and evacuation. For these reasons, anything resembling a bomb or grenade is prohibited from both carry-on and checked bags.
Discovered prohibited items
Clockwise from the top, these prohibited items were discovered in carry-on bags at LGA, BUR, ROC, IAH and IAH.


Three road flares were discovered in a carry-on bag at Phoenix (PHX). Flares are not allowed in carry-on or checked bags. Besides, if you need to get the attention of a flight attendant, all you need to do is press the overhead button. No need for flares… 

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. 

Table for discovered firearms in carry-on bags list
When packed properly, ammunition can be transported in your checked baggage, but it is never permissible to pack ammo in your carry-on bag. 

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 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

22 comments:

Chip and Andy said...

"Three inert/replica grenades were discovered in carry-on bags last week"

Was it your explosives professionals that determined they were inert/replica grenades? Or someone else? Are instances of the explosives professionals being called to investigate reported as incidents? Or, like so many other things in the TSA, are the explosives professionals a title that includes a bump in pay and maybe a different channel on the radios?

Julie Pruitt said...

"No need for flares" to get a flight attendant's attention -- funny!

Julie Pruitt said...

I can't find a link to read about the cane swords, as mentioned in the article about cane swords. I'd like to see the video.

Doober said...

Why did Lisa Farbstein feel the need to use the word "concealed" in this Twitter post?

https://twitter.com/TSAmedia_LisaF/status/795988903270449152

The blade was obviously old and rusty, probably left in the shoe after trimming the insert, and was not a threat to either the airplane or any passengers. All Farbstein did was fear monger. As one good person has said: "they never saw a threat they didn't like."

sreen shot; DHS IG statement

Chris Russo said...
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GSOLTSO said...

Doober sez "Why did Lisa Farbstein feel the need to use the word "concealed" in this Twitter post?"

Because the item WAS concealed under the insert of the shoe. Accurate representations of the situation are important.

Chip and Andy sez "Are instances of the explosives professionals being called to investigate reported as incidents? Or, like so many other things in the TSA, are the explosives professionals a title that includes a bump in pay and maybe a different channel on the radios?"

The post.states "our" explosives experts, and seeing as they were discovered at 3 fairly high throughput airports, I would venture a guess that they were TSSEs (which would be TSA employees). If that is the case, they have a minimum time in a similar position, they are required to have a current military or civilian EOD certification, and I am unable to find it, but there is a minimum time of service requirement that I can not find (it mentions something about it in the job description/requirements - but does not give a minimum time frame for on the job experience). The guys at my airport have over 20 years of EOD experience (each), and they are really squared away and proactive - when we call them, they come do what EOD guys always do. They examine, make determinations based upon the information they have available and move forward accordingly. The vast majority of TSSEs that I have met, are at a similar level - I think the one TSSE that I met that was below the 20 year experience level had 5 deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. He only had 7 years of experience. The positions do have a higher pay band than a TSO, but they also have a much higher level of responsibility than the average TSOs - they also have a much more specialized skill set than the average TSO. Some airports do accord them their own radio channel.

West
TSA Blog Team

Chip and Andy said...

West said... "he post.states "our" explosives experts, and seeing as they were discovered at 3 fairly high throughput airports, I would venture a guess that they were TSSEs "

That you sir. You answered A question, just not The question I asked.

Who determined the replica grenades were actually inert replicas? Did your TSSE's just walk over and say 'Inert' or did they, as is implied in the blotter posts every week, get security lanes get shut down while a specialized team with specialized equipment is dispatched to asses the threat of a possible grenade?

And let me save the TSA Cheerleaders some time and effort.... I am not challenging the inert and replica grenades being inspected, I am challenging the claim that it takes a specialized team that may or may not slow down the security choke point lines to determine the obviously fake grenade is indeed obviously a fake grenade.

Doober said...

The word "concealed", West, indicates something was deliberately hidden and is provocative, designed to create a reaction. You know full well from looking at the photo this item was not deliberately secreted from TSA.

And speaking of phrasing, where did AskTSA get the ridiculous phrase "enhancing our awareness"?

screen shot

RB said...

"Accurate representations of the situation are important." Since when? The TSA Blog never retracted the claim that the Backscatter Whole Body images were suitable for viewing by young children among other outlandish claims by TSA and the TSA Blog Team.

Castiels Corgi said...

Are we allowed to bring lightsaber on board? I'm uh cosplaying a jedi and when I get to my destination I'm going to surprise a six year old kid.

GSOLTSO said...

Chip and Andy sez - "Who determined the replica grenades were actually inert replicas? Did your TSSE's just walk over and say 'Inert' or did they, as is implied in the blotter posts every week, get security lanes get shut down while a specialized team with specialized equipment is dispatched to asses the threat of a possible grenade?

And let me save the TSA Cheerleaders some time and effort.... I am not challenging the inert and replica grenades being inspected, I am challenging the claim that it takes a specialized team that may or may not slow down the security choke point lines to determine the obviously fake grenade is indeed obviously a fake grenade."

This is not as easy of an answer at it may seem. There will be situations where both ends of the spectrum are required. Some cases, the TSSE can walk up, look at the image and determine fairly quickly that the item is not a threat that requires special equipment or deployment of the local EOD team for safe removal. Some cases the TSSE shows up and evacuates the checkpoint, because the item looks like an ACME bomb from the old Road Runner cartoons. Each situation is different, and each situation requires the TSSE (or other experts called in to assess) to make a determination based upon the information they have at hand. Not every replica results in a terminal dump, but some do. Not every possible threat item results in a terminal dump, but some do. Until the item is determined to be a non-threat, the agency chooses to treat the item as a possible threat, thus the steps you read about sometimes in the newsies and blogs. I know this is not a cut and dried "A will happen in this case, B will happen in that case", but there is no specific answer for all situations, they are all different and have to be handled based upon the actual item and available experts.

Doober sez - "The word "concealed", West, indicates something was deliberately hidden and is provocative, designed to create a reaction. You know full well from looking at the photo this item was not deliberately secreted from TSA.

And speaking of phrasing, where did AskTSA get the ridiculous phrase "enhancing our awareness"?"

The item was found in a location that is not a traditional transportation location for razor blades. If the item had been found in a small tool kit, or a shave kit, or a razor blade container - all of these are places you would expect to find a razor blade. In the bottom of a shoe, under the lining of the shoe is not a traditional place to find razor blades - thus the concealed descriptor.

I am uncertain where the phrasing came from, I am not part of their message development team, although "enhancing our awareness" is a pretty good set of words to indicate what it means to learn things.

Castiels Corgi sez - "Are we allowed to bring lightsaber on board? I'm uh cosplaying a jedi and when I get to my destination I'm going to surprise a six year old kid."

This is a difficult answer, some forms of lightsaber are not permitted as a "clublike item" - these are usually made of wood or metal, and are able to function as a blunt weapon, those are not allowed. Some are made of polyethylene and are used as walking sticks or canes - those are allowed as any other assistive device is. Some are made of paper, or thin plastic or poly shell, and some of those are allowed, some are not. I would suggest contacting the airport you are flying through ahead of time and communicating directly with them, you can contact TSA directly here in order to get in touch with the specific airport -

https://www.tsa.gov/contact/customer-service

I hope this helps, because I would hate for you to get to the airport and have challenges getting your cosplay items through. One solution would be to place the item in a checked bag - blunt items and such are always allowed in checked baggage.

West
TSA Blog Team

Wintermute said...
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GSOLTSO said...

Wintermute sez - "So, TSA is potentially putting travelers at risk while they determine whether an item is a threat or not."

Again, each situation is different. Some items can be cleared in a short amount of time, others not so much. The TSA folks in each situation make the best decision with the information they have at hand. The job is to mitigate the threat and sometimes that means we do a bag check for a bottle of water or a pocket knife - some wind up with the entire terminal being emptied and a huge disruption of the schedule and peoples lives.

West
TSA Blog Team

RB said...

I'm going to take an unusual position and back TSA on how threat items are handled. A pinned grenade is no more dangerous than a rock so a visual inspection should suffice. And I will defer to the EOD types to determine if an item suggest a terminal dump is called for. Could they ever be wrong? Of course, but how many terminal dumps would the public stand for?

I think TSA is improperly structured, has hired poor quality workers, and has a host of issues to overcome.

EOD seems to be one area that is working fairly well.

Chip and Andy said...

Blogger RB said..."I'm going to take an unusual position and back TSA on how threat items are handled. "

My question was more to the PR fluff that are these blotter posts. Inert and replica grenades, including the perfume bottles that are so obviously not dangerous with the exception of possibly offending someone's nose, get presented here in the usual ZOMG! Lookit! manner that it borders on the silly. And it is made worse by trying to claim there is some fancy explosives team that has to be called over every time.

I don't doubt there is some fancy EOD team, what I do strongly doubt is they get called anywhere near as often as these blotter posts try and imply. A casual search of the news links available on the internet indicate a 'terminal dump' due to explosives that later were revealed to be a replica or inert grenade are exceedingly rare.

For the tl;dr crowd... TSA please present your police blotter style findings and leave the ZOMG! Lookit exposition to the TSA cheerleaders in the comment sections.

Wintermute said...
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GSOLTSO said...

Chip and Andy sez - "And it is made worse by trying to claim there is some fancy explosives team that has to be called over every time.

I don't doubt there is some fancy EOD team, what I do strongly doubt is they get called anywhere near as often as these blotter posts try and imply. A casual search of the news links available on the internet indicate a 'terminal dump' due to explosives that later were revealed to be a replica or inert grenade are exceedingly rare."

It is not always an EOD "team", sometimes it is just a local TSA explosives expert (Transportation Security Specialist Explosives - or TSSE) that is called in. We have called in ours here at GSO several times over the years. I don't doubt that there is some "fancy EOD team" somewhere in the US, but most of the time, our TSSEs can resolve the situation without resorting to an EOD call out. That is the benefit of having these folks work with us, they have the experience, training and understanding to handle most items that are considered "possible threats". I have been doing this job for 12 years, and I can tell you some things on the xray (checkpoint or checked baggage) that raise the hair on the back of your neck. Some of them look like the old ACME bombs from the cartoons, some are more subtle - the important part is to make sure we clear these items in as safe and efficient manner as we possibly can. Without our TSSEs nationwide, there would most likely be many more EOD call outs, resulting in a concourse dump or lockdown. A replica looks convincing enough that we have to take them seriously until we are able to safely clear them. Maybe in the future, we will have new technology that comes along and helps to prevent some of these instances, but until then, we keep posting these items for public awareness.

West
TSA Blog Team

Chip and Andy said...

Agent West said "...A replica looks convincing enough that we have to take them seriously until we are able to safely clear them. "

Thank you. Again. And again you answered A question just not the question being asked.

Your job is to look for things that might go boom. That is not being challenged. And replica grenades should be looked at and more than just a casual glance. Except for the perfume bottle shaped like a grenade, the fact you have any of those in your blotter post should be a point of embarrassment. Anyway.....

You admit you have at least one airport with a fancy explosives team. You admit several (most?) other airports have what you call a TSSE, so that means some airports have both. Then you admit they only get called several times in several years.

Which is it? Fake grenades cause problems like the blotter posts mention? Or the fake grenades are so fake they don't need any more examination than it takes to voluntarily surrender them from the travellers?

And there is another question you haven't answered.... If the fake grenades are fake do they get to fly or not?

Boldly said...

I think TSA is improperly structured, has hired poor quality workers, and has a host of issues to overcome

I agree with this for the most part. They should have a higher quality staff. Unfortunately, when you pay them $15 and hour and only hire part time employees, that is what you get. I know it says starting pay is $30,000 plus, but the reality is, they only hire part time so it is half of that at best. If you want career minded quality personnel, you need to pay for it. The top quality officers TSA does hire end up leaving after a while to take a better paying federal job. TSA is just the key to opening the door to federal service. So they are left with the lesser quality officers. If they hired full time and paid as well as CBP or ICE, they would have a much better more dedicated work force.

Wintermute said...
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Boldly said...

Wintermute said...
Your knowledge of their staffing issues suggests you have some connection to the TSA. Or is all of this just conjecture on your part?

everything I speak of is public knowledge. Anyone with aces to the internet can get the same info. Unlike several on this blog, I don't just randomly make stuff up to fit my agenda. I actually do some research to get my answers.

Wintermute said...
This comment has been removed by the author.