Commentary Magazine


Topic: TSA

Monkeyshines

From the you-can’t-make-this-stuff-up department:

Last week, TSA agents at the St. Louis airport confiscated a gun–from a sock monkey!

The monkey, Rooster Monkburn (homage to John Wayne in True Grit), was traveling from St. Louis to Washington in the company of his creator, doll-maker Phyllis May.  Actually, he was traveling in Ms. May’s carry-on bag, along with some sewing supplies. A keen-eyed TSA agent spotted the dual threat, pulled the bag from the conveyor belt, and called Ms. May over. Removing Rooster’s pistol from its holster she informed Ms. May that, “This is a gun.” The sewing supplies were confiscated, as was the gun. All two-inches of it (check out the photo). Ms. May got her needles and thread back, but the sock-monkey cowboy had to make the trip unarmed.

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From the you-can’t-make-this-stuff-up department:

Last week, TSA agents at the St. Louis airport confiscated a gun–from a sock monkey!

The monkey, Rooster Monkburn (homage to John Wayne in True Grit), was traveling from St. Louis to Washington in the company of his creator, doll-maker Phyllis May.  Actually, he was traveling in Ms. May’s carry-on bag, along with some sewing supplies. A keen-eyed TSA agent spotted the dual threat, pulled the bag from the conveyor belt, and called Ms. May over. Removing Rooster’s pistol from its holster she informed Ms. May that, “This is a gun.” The sewing supplies were confiscated, as was the gun. All two-inches of it (check out the photo). Ms. May got her needles and thread back, but the sock-monkey cowboy had to make the trip unarmed.

The TSA’s response? “TSA officers are dedicated to keeping the nation’s transportation security systems safe and secure for the traveling public. Under longstanding aircraft security policy, and out of an abundance of caution, realistic replicas of firearms are prohibited in carry-on bags.”

I can’t speak for anyone else, but I sure will sleep better tonight knowing that my safety, and the safety of my friends and loved ones, is in such good hands.

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Privatize Airport Security

Rather than use sequestration to trim waste, the Obama administration has viewed the deadline—and the Republican desire to curtail spending—as an assault on big government. If it’s a choice between defending big government and hurting the individual, President Obama appears much more inclined to punish the individual, hoping that a backlash against government-instigated inconvenience will lead Republicans to cave.

Nowhere is this attitude on greater display than with regard to airport security. Transportation Security Administration procedures at airports have been controversial for some time, and their effectiveness up for debate. There’s no need to rehash those news stories here. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Transportation Secretary Raymond LaHood, and other officials have warned darkly of the time needed to clear security checkpoint and customs lines doubling, tripling, or even quadrupling. Jonathan Tobin has covered the fear-mongering well.

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Rather than use sequestration to trim waste, the Obama administration has viewed the deadline—and the Republican desire to curtail spending—as an assault on big government. If it’s a choice between defending big government and hurting the individual, President Obama appears much more inclined to punish the individual, hoping that a backlash against government-instigated inconvenience will lead Republicans to cave.

Nowhere is this attitude on greater display than with regard to airport security. Transportation Security Administration procedures at airports have been controversial for some time, and their effectiveness up for debate. There’s no need to rehash those news stories here. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Transportation Secretary Raymond LaHood, and other officials have warned darkly of the time needed to clear security checkpoint and customs lines doubling, tripling, or even quadrupling. Jonathan Tobin has covered the fear-mongering well.

Lost in the headlines, however, has been the desire of several airports even prior to sequestration to drop the TSA and instead contract out for their own security. The government may be playing chicken, with ordinary people the victims, but sequestration should also renew the drive to enable the private sector to replace government bureaucracy. Endless airport lines under sequestration are not about security, they are about the inability of a government agency to do its job with its available means. In the real world, if a business fails to provide a promised service, its contract becomes void. Rather than cave once against to those who would embrace big government, perhaps it’s time to call Obama and Napolitano’s bluff, send the TSA pink slips, and let airlines and airports handle the security task themselves.

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