Annals of airline security: Part II

January 28, 2011 • 5:21 pm

I was sensitized to airline security after I was forced in Boston to be scanned by the See-You-Naked Machine, and then groped on the buttocks.  Here’s the latest outrage: a 59 year old Canadian woman was bringing her husband a toy soldier from England, but the soldier’s three-inch plastic gun was confiscated by officials at Gatwick Airport. The officials branded the tiny weapon a “firearm.”

The woman, Julie Lloyd, was forced to leave the security line and mail the “gun” back home to Canada.

Here’s the gun that was deemed too dangerous to fly:

It doesn’t even have a trigger!

And here’s the toy soldier who brandished it:

At least it’s not American tax dollars at work.

53 thoughts on “Annals of airline security: Part II

  1. The kid would have been expelled from school in most states (I know). In California they have to attend what amounts to a remedial/disciplinary school for a year. Bright kids are thereby punished the most severely.

      1. I’ll give you a citation. My wife is a high school teacher. She has to expell kids caught with butter knives or plastic toy weapons. It happens routinely.

    1. We have an American friend who spent part of her childhood in Europe where it was common to carry a pen-knife. Then her family moved back to the States (somewhere in PA) — where she got busted for taking her knife to school, and a mandatory expulsion under zero-tolerance. It worked out, though: the state was still obliged to educate her, and she wound up at a private school where she had a great time. She also had to see a counselor once a week — ‘cuz obviously, she must be a troubled teen, right? — but the counselor realized the whole thing was bullshit, so they just talked, or went to a movie during the designated time.

      Of course it sucks to be a taxpayer subsidizing that sort of brain-dead bureaucrap.

      Re the OP: we’ve gone for Security Theatre to Security Miniature Role-Playing Game?

  2. The policy is stupid – as was highlighted the first time a miniature toy gun was confiscated from a kid.

    Which leads to the question: Why, in light of how well known that previous story is, was the woman stupid enough to try getting her toy through the carry-on? In fact, why do so many people put so much crap in carry-on instead of checking it in?

    Yes, the TSA and its dogma are as misguided and useless as the Church, but you do not get rid of it by going to mass and then arguing with the priest about con- vs. transubstantiation.

    The stupidity can only be fought politically, but everyone lets the tabloids get away with cowing the politicos into reäcting to every foiled terrorist plot with ever more draconian rules.

    The People whine, when they have to follow the stupid Rules, and the People whine when there are not enough stupid Rules.

    “Only two things are infinite: The Universe and human stupidity – and I’m not so sure about the former.”

    1. Funny, I have never heard about a toy gun from a miniature soldier being confiscated before now. It’s not that well known. And unless the US is occupying England, it wasn’t the TSA.

      As for why people put so much into carry on bags? It doesn’t cost any money, it doesn’t get stolen and its handling is all your fault. I’m sure there are others.

    2. I wasn’t, until now, aware of that other story and I think I’d have made the same mistake. I don’t fly much and I would’ve thought (a) that my statuette would be safer in my carry on than checked and (b) that the obviously non-functional “model” of a military weapon was, in fact, neither a toy nor a firearm.

      That said, just knowing how stringent the regulations are generally, maybe it is silly that she even tried to take it on the plane in the first place. I agree entirely that the griping about too-stringent rules, that appear silly when applied like this without some discretion — though I doubt individual security officers have much of that anyway — is unecessary and useless. In her shoes, I’d be annoyed and think it was rediculous, but I’d probably just quietly mail the thing home because them’s the rules, whether I like ’em or not. And, far as I can tell, they don’t actually infringe on my rights and freedoms (or anyone elses’s).

      1. And, far as I can tell, they don’t actually infringe on my rights and freedoms (or anyone elses’s).

        I don’t get it. You just spent most of your comment talking about an event in which a woman’s rights were violated, and then you say this? Does not compute.

      2. May not have been a rights infringement, but might have been terribly inconvenient. Don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m not always going through TSA with the recommended 2 hour before-flight cushion. And I don’t know how I’d have gone about getting the darned thing mailed home from the airport in time to go back through security. Which would have left a choice of either missing my flight or abandoning a gift I’d spent over $200 on…

    3. “Why, in light of how well known that previous story is, was the woman stupid enough to try getting her toy through the carry-on?”

      Awesome. Blame the victim!

      In rebuttal, consider this: if I thought the people who ran the airline transport industry were so routinely stupid that they would confiscate a toy gun, I wouldn’t fly.

      Merely getting on an airplane signals your supreme confidence in the intelligence and common sense of the airline industry. Blaming someone for trusting people to keep a jet-liner flying, but not for trusting them to understand the difference between a weapon and a tiny plastic replica of a weapon, is idiotic.

    1. What the hell are you talking about? We’re talking about an obviously toy, 3-inch gun. What in the world does that have to do with the dangers of real firearms?

      1. Haven’t you seen the toy models used by operation planners in old movies? This is *military* material! 😀

        Seriously, without looking into the matter, it is natural because

        a) security doesn’t have time to spare arguing over definitions of arms, so regulations err on the safe side

        b) most model guns can AFAIU be converted to real firearms – scaled down guns runs up against a)

        c) models do have military training and planning use, so taking them out hampers terrorists. (Very slightly, since it isn’t as if models can’t be gotten or made nearly everywhere – but since when have politicians not grasped for easy political points even in the absence of real gain?)

        I’m with Sili on this. I don’t even have to prepare for flying to get this easy one, and grousing about it outside of the political arena is useless so mere whining.

        I’m more interested in the sort of mind who thinks that was an appropriate toy for kids in the first place. Normalizing violence has all sorts of ill effects IIRC studies on kids. (And grownups, so the specific gift was also inappropriate if more understandable.)

        1. I prepared this as a response to Josh and misplaced it. Though after the fact it looks to me it places rather well as a general response too.

          Also I should not that model to function conversion naturally isn’t total (well, duh), but I believe some metal models can be bored up to single shots.

        2. “I’m more interested in the sort of mind who thinks that was an appropriate toy for kids in the first place. Normalizing violence has all sorts of ill effects IIRC studies on kids.”

          From the original post:

          :…a 59 year old Canadian woman was bringing her husband a toy soldier from England,”

          It’s fairly obvious that the figure in the picture is not a toy, but some sort of comemmorative statuette – rather pricey, too at $215.00. Probably very appropriate for an ex-soldier or military historian.

          1. ll the more reason for the Security Apparachik to demand it be put in checked luggage. So they can steal it. Like they did for my binoculars and sister’s jewelry.

        3. Are you seriously saying a 3 inch toy gun (made out of plastic AFAICS) can be converted to an actual weapon?! And that it would take more than a few seconds for security to figure this out?

    2. “That’s a lethal firearm.”

      Maybe not. It looks like an L85A1, a rifle so unreliable that it is unlikely to have endangered anyone on the plane.

  3. With a world full of complete asshats in possesion of military weapons capable of mass murder on a historically unprecedented scale,this kind of nonsense just blooooows my mind.How stupid are we going to get,before we ####### wake the #### up.

  4. Im sorry.As usual I forgot to complete my rant.They are reffered to the National Retard Asssociation for a very good reason.Complete evidence denial.and pure contrarian human cuussedness is their eternal hallmark.I ####### wish there wa a hel,so they could go there.Ban all guns-military civilian-whatever.Dont tell mee people will stil find ways to kill each other.Dont insult my intelligence.Anybody with an ounce of common sense knows perfectly well that guns are faaaar more efficient at killing all living things than any widely available technolgy thats existed before.

  5. DUDE.The reason people are fraking out about toys like this are the frightening numbers of extremely dangerous weapons,and their continuing profitable distribution.Dont trifle with this issue mister.I fully realize the silliness of what happened .This kind of offhand pretending not to get what a person means or their “jist”,is exactly what leads to bloodshed.GROW UP.

    1. Oh, stop it. That’s not the reason airport “security” is freaking out about three-inch-long guns. They’re doing that out of misplaced, irrational fears while failing to attend to real security problems in mass transit. It’s stupid.

      1. They are feaking out because they have peoples lives in their hands.Im obviously just using this oppurtunity to rant about guuuuns.I haaaate them.You got a problem with that?Go join the NRA

  6. I wonder what would have happened if the gun had been an integral part of the figure instead of an added piece.

    I also wonder what brand of cold medicine Prodigal Sun’s been taking.

  7. Guns are prohibited on flights. Replica guns are prohibited on flights. Toy guns are prohibited on flights.

    I think we can all agree that’s a good thing.

    All that has happened here is that the rule has been applied strictly and without discretion.

    I hadn’t heard of the other incident but it isn’t at all surprising that a model or toy weapon would be refused.

    1. “All that has happened here is that the rule has been applied strictly and without discretion.”


      The policy seems okay, if a bit extreme (esp. re: toy guns), but they need to think before they apply it! As others have pointed out, this isn’t a toy. Even if it was a toy, though, it seems fairly obvious that the policy needn’t have been applied. (And for PR purposes, they really, really shouldn’t have applied it.)

      1. That said, I wonder if individual secutiry officers/agents actually have any discretion… I’d guess that they don’t.

        1. It raises two questions – a) are individual security agents permitted to use discretion and b) should they be.

          Frankly this is more reasonable than the restrictions on carrying a bottle of water on board. It affects almost no one – and is a minor inconvenience to those who are.

  8. The only way this could be any stupider is if they started banning anything that a picture of a gun on it.


  9. What I would like to know is if the airport security let the now-unarmed and probably insulted 6-inch high soldier onto the plane. A soldier that small with a radio could get loose, sneak into the maintenance hatches, and do some real damage 😉

  10. Why is everyone insisting on referring to this figurine as a “toy”?

    It is quite clearly an ornament and not intended for children.

  11. as this story was first reported in the Daily Mail, its probably not true. And nowhere in the original article is any evidence that it did happen, at least as described.

    1. The story has now appeared in USA Today and the National Post of Canada. Care to revisit your accusation?

      Coyne’s laws

      1. If I put up a photo, someone will say it’s been Photoshopped
      2. If I post a bizarre story, someone will say that it was made up.

      1. sorry, when did it become a bad thing to expect some evidence before believing something happened?
        This has been extensively reported on here in the UK too without anything extra being added to the story. Meanwhile a museum has garnered an awesome amount of publicity. Maybe it happened presicely as Mr Lloyd described it, maybe there is more to the story than that. We don’t know.
        But what i do know is that the Daily Mail is an awful xenophobic, homophobic rag with a determined agenda to roll back any sort of progressive, liberal policy. And they do print ‘made up’ stories, frequently.
        That said, airport security here is easily equal in stupidity to yours, so it wouldn’t be an amazing surprise if it did turn out true. But i don’t have enough trust in the British press to take their word for things anymore. They don’t deserve it.

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