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TSA Confiscation of Replica Firearms and Toy Weapons

TSA Confiscation of Replica Firearms and Toy Weapons

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Old Nov 22, 18, 4:44 am
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TSA Confiscation of Replica Firearms and Toy Weapons

Originally Posted by chollie View Post
just as scary as the 'lifelike replica' two-inch gun that TSA confiscated from a sock monkey.
FWIW, I would love to see this 'replica' faffery litigated.

TSA's coercion authority is explicit about the limitation. 49 USC 44902(a):
"an [air carrier must …] refuse to transport—
(1) a passenger who does not consent to a search … establishing whether the passenger is carrying unlawfully a dangerous weapon, explosive, or other destructive substance; or
(2) property of a passenger who does not consent to a search of the property establishing whether the property unlawfully contains a dangerous weapon, explosive, or other destructive substance."

A non-functional replica is not a "dangerous weapon, explosive, or other destructive substance". Let alone e.g. a toy raygun or the like. The statute simply does not allow TSA to make a regulation for banning imaginary WEI, only actual WEI.

In fact, their own regulations do not allow it. See 49 CFR 1544.201: "any weapon, explosive, or incendiary"; 49 CFR 1540.111 ("a weapon, explosive, or incendiary"). CFR Title 49 (TSA's regs) don't even contain the word "replica" (except in reference to train driving controls).

FT TSOs: could you please check the current Checkpoint Screening SOP, see what CFR/USC it cites for any "replica"-type aspects, and post the cite? (Not asking you to post the SOP's content, just the authority cite for this. The cite itself, and the SOP's reliance on it, is not SSI.)
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Old Nov 22, 18, 5:24 am
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Originally Posted by saizai View Post
FWIW, I would love to see this 'replica' faffery litigated.

TSA's coercion authority is explicit about the limitation. 49 USC 44902(a):
"an [air carrier must …] refuse to transport—
(1) a passenger who does not consent to a search … establishing whether the passenger is carrying unlawfully a dangerous weapon, explosive, or other destructive substance; or
(2) property of a passenger who does not consent to a search of the property establishing whether the property unlawfully contains a dangerous weapon, explosive, or other destructive substance."

A non-functional replica is not a "dangerous weapon, explosive, or other destructive substance". Let alone e.g. a toy raygun or the like. The statute simply does not allow TSA to make a regulation for banning imaginary WEI, only actual WEI.

In fact, their own regulations do not allow it. See 49 CFR 1544.201: "any weapon, explosive, or incendiary"; 49 CFR 1540.111 ("a weapon, explosive, or incendiary"). CFR Title 49 (TSA's regs) don't even contain the word "replica" (except in reference to train driving controls).

FT TSOs: could you please check the current Checkpoint Screening SOP, see what CFR/USC it cites for any "replica"-type aspects, and post the cite? (Not asking you to post the SOP's content, just the authority cite for this. The cite itself, and the SOP's reliance on it, is not SSI.)
As you are probably aware, TSA claims it confiscates these replicas because they might cause problems on board due to passengers being frightened. I think for the most part they greatly underestimate the intelligence of passengers.
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Old Nov 22, 18, 5:31 am
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Originally Posted by petaluma1 View Post
As you are probably aware, TSA claims it confiscates these replicas because they might cause problems on board due to passengers being frightened.
IDGAF. If it's not in the statute and not even in the regs, it's just plain illegal.

(Plus, do you really want a government doing things based on what might "scare" passengers? Helllooooo racism!)
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Old Nov 23, 18, 4:07 pm
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Originally Posted by petaluma1 View Post
As you are probably aware, TSA claims it confiscates these replicas because they might cause problems on board due to passengers being frightened. I think for the most part they greatly underestimate the intelligence of passengers.
Being frightened isn't a good reason but plenty of crimes have been committed with fake weapons.

I think the bit of going after obvious fakes is to avoid any dispute about whether something is realistic enough to be mistaken for real. Just another manifestation of zero tolerance stupidity.
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Old Nov 25, 18, 6:13 am
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Originally Posted by petaluma1 View Post
As you are probably aware, TSA claims it confiscates these replicas because they might cause problems on board due to passengers being frightened. I think for the most part they greatly underestimate the intelligence of passengers.
I'm not sure they do. Seriously. As much as I love my country, and as much pride as I have in its many accomplishments, I cannot deny that it contains multitudes of ignorant, backward, uneducated, easily-panicked, and/or just plain stupid people. They give the rest of us a bad name, and unfortunately they tend to be a rather vociferous group, pandered to by those in power at all levels of government. I have no doubt that the terrified nature of many in the traveling public would result in a panicked stampede or riot if even a mildly realistic replica weapon were ever brandished aboard an aircraft. If you doubt it, think about the infamous Usain Bolt Attack at JFK in August 2016:
https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/15/n...vacuation.html
https://abc7ny.com/travel/jfk-airpor...s-say/1470552/

Some raucous travelers celebrated Bolt's Olympic victory a bit too loudly for one panicked traveler, who called 911 and mistakenly reported shots fired.

From a few of the articles I have read, it seems that some of the celebrants were pounding on tables or countertops in their joy at Bolt's victory, the sound of which was mistaken for gunfire by someone who was probably already on-edge as a result of aviophobia and/or terrorphobia, probably someone who was unfamiliar with the actual sound of gunfire.

From there, the situation spiraled into panic, over-reaction, and terror, on the part of both the traveling public and the responding agencies. It is a wonder that no one was shot dead by the screaming, gun-wielding cops who swarmed the terminal to search for an active shooter that didn't actually exist.

If such a dangerous panic can be provoked by someone pounding their hands on a table, imagine the panic that might ensue if a frightened traveler actually saw a gun-shaped object in another traveler's possession. Worse, imagine the response from panicked LEOs when responding to a "man with a gun" call inside an airport terminal. Expecting to confront an active shooter, these officers would rush in with weapons drawn, adrenaline pumping, screaming at the tops of their lungs, and could easily open fire at a crowded gate or concession at the slightest provocation.

I am not defending the ridiculous confiscation of the teen's purse with an embossed gun image, or the confiscation of the woman's gun replica shoe heels, or the stupidity of prohibiting children's toys, or the blatant idiocy of attempting to confiscate a cane shaped like a lightsaber. However, I must acknowledge that replica weapons pose a genuine, if indirect, threat - that of provoking false panic among the easily panicked masses.
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Old Nov 25, 18, 8:16 am
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Originally Posted by WillCAD View Post
I'm not sure they do. Seriously. As much as I love my country, and as much pride as I have in its many accomplishments, I cannot deny that it contains multitudes of ignorant, backward, uneducated, easily-panicked, and/or just plain stupid people. They give the rest of us a bad name, and unfortunately they tend to be a rather vociferous group, pandered to by those in power at all levels of government. I have no doubt that the terrified nature of many in the traveling public would result in a panicked stampede or riot if even a mildly realistic replica weapon were ever brandished aboard an aircraft. If you doubt it, think about the infamous Usain Bolt Attack at JFK in August 2016:
https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/15/n...vacuation.html
https://abc7ny.com/travel/jfk-airpor...s-say/1470552/

Some raucous travelers celebrated Bolt's Olympic victory a bit too loudly for one panicked traveler, who called 911 and mistakenly reported shots fired.

From a few of the articles I have read, it seems that some of the celebrants were pounding on tables or countertops in their joy at Bolt's victory, the sound of which was mistaken for gunfire by someone who was probably already on-edge as a result of aviophobia and/or terrorphobia, probably someone who was unfamiliar with the actual sound of gunfire.

From there, the situation spiraled into panic, over-reaction, and terror, on the part of both the traveling public and the responding agencies. It is a wonder that no one was shot dead by the screaming, gun-wielding cops who swarmed the terminal to search for an active shooter that didn't actually exist.

If such a dangerous panic can be provoked by someone pounding their hands on a table, imagine the panic that might ensue if a frightened traveler actually saw a gun-shaped object in another traveler's possession. Worse, imagine the response from panicked LEOs when responding to a "man with a gun" call inside an airport terminal. Expecting to confront an active shooter, these officers would rush in with weapons drawn, adrenaline pumping, screaming at the tops of their lungs, and could easily open fire at a crowded gate or concession at the slightest provocation.

I am not defending the ridiculous confiscation of the teen's purse with an embossed gun image, or the confiscation of the woman's gun replica shoe heels, or the stupidity of prohibiting children's toys, or the blatant idiocy of attempting to confiscate a cane shaped like a lightsaber. However, I must acknowledge that replica weapons pose a genuine, if indirect, threat - that of provoking false panic among the easily panicked masses.
I guess you are right!

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Old Nov 25, 18, 2:00 pm
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Originally Posted by saizai View Post
FWIW, I would love to see this 'replica' faffery litigated.

TSA's coercion authority is explicit about the limitation. 49 USC 44902(a):
"an [air carrier must …] refuse to transport—
(1) a passenger who does not consent to a search … establishing whether the passenger is carrying unlawfully a dangerous weapon, explosive, or other destructive substance; or
(2) property of a passenger who does not consent to a search of the property establishing whether the property unlawfully contains a dangerous weapon, explosive, or other destructive substance."

A non-functional replica is not a "dangerous weapon, explosive, or other destructive substance". Let alone e.g. a toy raygun or the like. The statute simply does not allow TSA to make a regulation for banning imaginary WEI, only actual WEI.

In fact, their own regulations do not allow it. See 49 CFR 1544.201: "any weapon, explosive, or incendiary"; 49 CFR 1540.111 ("a weapon, explosive, or incendiary"). CFR Title 49 (TSA's regs) don't even contain the word "replica" (except in reference to train driving controls).

FT TSOs: could you please check the current Checkpoint Screening SOP, see what CFR/USC it cites for any "replica"-type aspects, and post the cite? (Not asking you to post the SOP's content, just the authority cite for this. The cite itself, and the SOP's reliance on it, is not SSI.)
I have only seen one CFR reference and that is at the Federal Register.
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Old Nov 25, 18, 3:22 pm
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From the Federal Register referenced above:

Weapons include firearms, as well as realistic replicas of firearms that may reasonably be thought to be actual weapons. Such realistic replicas are prohibited because their similarity in appearance to real weapons may allow them to be used to intimidate passengers and flight crew. The screener has the discretion to determine when a replica is so realistic that it should be prohibited. Other toy weapons will be allowed in the sterile areas and cabin.

Last edited by TWA884; Nov 26, 18 at 12:04 pm Reason: Fix BB Code
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Old Nov 26, 18, 10:35 am
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Originally Posted by petaluma1 View Post
From the Federal Register referenced above:

Weapons include firearms, as well as realistic replicas of firearms that may reasonably be thought to be actual weapons. Such realistic replicas are prohibited because their similarity in appearance to real weapons may allow them to be used to intimidate passengers and flight crew. The screener has the discretion to determine when a replica is so realistic that it should be prohibited. Other toy weapons will be allowed in the sterile areas and cabin.
(bolding mine)

There is only one rule that matters at the checkpoint: that is the discretion of the screener handling your belongings. Some screener sincerely believed, based on his/her SSI training, that a sock monkey's two-inch gun could be used to intimidate pax and flight crew.
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Last edited by TWA884; Nov 26, 18 at 12:05 pm Reason: Fix BB Code
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Old Nov 26, 18, 12:22 pm
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Originally Posted by chollie View Post
(bolding mine)

There is only one rule that matters at the checkpoint: that is the discretion of the screener handling your belongings. Some screener sincerely believed, based on his/her SSI training, that a sock monkey's two-inch gun could be used to intimidate pax and flight crew.
Small firearm replicas need to be examined, and it needs to be determined that they are in fact a toy, not just a miniaturized weapon. Because there are absolutely functional firearms that are that small. Or

That being said, once an item that small is determined to be an actual toy, then it should be allowed to go. Other, realistic replicas, not so much based upon TSA doctrine and published information.
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Old Nov 26, 18, 12:31 pm
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Originally Posted by gsoltso View Post
Small firearm replicas need to be examined, and it needs to be determined that they are in fact a toy, not just a miniaturized weapon. Because there are absolutely functional firearms that are that small. Or this big.

That being said, once an item that small is determined to be an actual toy, then it should be allowed to go. Other, realistic replicas, not so much based upon TSA doctrine and published information.

LOL - you're joking right? A two inch "firearm" is not a weapon that can cause material harm to anyone. They're novelties at best. Whatever a two inch gun shoots would have trouble puncturing through a shirt, much less through someone's skin. The combination of a short barrel (meaning little chance to accelerate the "bullet") and low mass of the "bullet" means that the force it can impart is trivial.

While I think it's silly, I actually get the logic behind full-sized replicas (since people may think they're real and be used accordingly). Banning a two inch gun? That's just downright stupid. Virtually anything else someone carries on is more dangerous. This is the one case where a bottle of water is more dangerous.. used as a throwing weapon. A pound or two of mass can do some damage if thrown with some force! This gun, not so much.
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Old Nov 26, 18, 12:48 pm
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TSA Officer Confiscates Sock Monkey’s Toy

An airport security screener seized a toy pistol from a sock monkey dressed as a cowboy — because it apparently looked too real.
TSA Screeners Take Toy From Mentally Disabled Man MV Premium Minyanville's Wall Street

TSA Screeners Take Toy From Mentally Disabled Man

In one high-profile case that forced Detroit's airport to retrain its entire attachment of TSA screeners, an overzealous agent took away a cherished toy plastic hammer from a young man with the mental capacity of a toddler.
Gun-themed purse delays teen flier

While Gibbs told CNN affiliate News 4 JAX that she's carried the purse on many flights, the 17-year-old says she was told that the purse "was a federal offense because it's in the shape of a gun. I'm like, 'a design on a purse. How is it a federal offense?' "

By the time TSA officials figured out that the purse was a fake, offering Gibbs the opportunity to give up the purse or check it, Gibbs had missed her flight and was placed on another to Orlando. Her frantic mother drove from Jacksonville to Orlando to pick her daughter up.​​​​​​​
What should happen and what really happens at TSA airports is light years apart. Must be all that high quality training TSA provides.
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Last edited by Boggie Dog; Nov 26, 18 at 12:59 pm
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Old Nov 26, 18, 1:46 pm
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Originally Posted by gsoltso View Post
Small firearm replicas need to be examined, and it needs to be determined that they are in fact a toy, not just a miniaturized weapon. Because there are absolutely functional firearms that are that small. Or this big.

That being said, once an item that small is determined to be an actual toy, then it should be allowed to go. Other, realistic replicas, not so much based upon TSA doctrine and published information.
Visit a penitentiary's museum - chances are you will find many examples of firearms made from very inoffensive looking objects. Google "zip gun" - they are made even from ball-point pens.

Title 18, Section 2113 Subsection d sets out that use of toy or replica weapons to rob a bank is a felony. Prohibiting toy and replica weapons in commercial aviation follows from the same principles. Somewhere in this forum is a long thread in which we discussed TSA's authority to search/administrative searches, etc. and I seem to recall setting out the specific CFR that prohibits to and "replica" weapons at checkpoints.
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Old Nov 26, 18, 2:28 pm
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Originally Posted by Section 107 View Post
Visit a penitentiary's museum - chances are you will find many examples of firearms made from very inoffensive looking objects. Google "zip gun" - they are made even from ball-point pens.

Title 18, Section 2113 Subsection d sets out that use of toy or replica weapons to rob a bank is a felony. Prohibiting toy and replica weapons in commercial aviation follows from the same principles. Somewhere in this forum is a long thread in which we discussed TSA's authority to search/administrative searches, etc. and I seem to recall setting out the specific CFR that prohibits to and "replica" weapons at checkpoints.
A replica looks exactly like the real thing. What is the definition of a replica in the CFR?
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Old Nov 26, 18, 2:46 pm
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Originally Posted by Boggie Dog View Post


A replica looks exactly like the real thing. What is the definition of a replica in the CFR?
Weapons include firearms, as well as realistic replicas of firearms that may reasonably be thought to be actual weapons. Such realistic replicas are prohibited because their similarity in appearance to real weapons may allow them to be used to intimidate passengers and flight crew.
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