TSA Says 'No' to Teenage Passenger with Gun Design on Purse

A 17-year-old holiday traveler claims the TSA stopped her at the security checkpoint at Virginia’s Norfolk International Airport because of the design on her small purse – a design which features a gun.

Speaking in the cadence of teens, Vanessa Gibbs told WJXT TV, “She was like, ‘This is a federal offense because it’s in the shape of a gun.’ I’m like, ‘But it’s a design on a purse. How is it a federal offense?'”

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TSA: No ‘Replica’ Weapons Allowed

According to a TSA spokesman, “Security checkpoints may be impacted or closed because replica weapons like toy guns, novelty grenades, fake bombs and other items appear similar to the real thing when viewed through an X-ray machine.”

According to the TSA website, “replica weapons” are forbidden in the passenger cabin, and Gibbs was given the choice of checking her purse or discarding it and presumably she chose the former, but that’s not clear from news reports.

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What is clear is that the situation at security cost the traveler time, and she ultimately missed her Southwest flight, although Gibbs also reportedly turned up at security just 20 minutes before departure. Meanwhile, the TSA is checking out claims by the teen that she has successfully carried her purse through other security checkpoints without a problem.


Published: December 5, 2011