From expandable batons and “sword canes” to gun parts and a really terrifying-looking sickle, New York and New Jersey’s Transportation Security Administration inspectors have made some interesting finds over the past year. While, thankfully, none of the region’s three major airports are listed on the TSA’s list of top airports for gun seizures, travelers in the area still managed to keep inspectors busy.
The TSA found a record 2,212 firearms in travelers’ bags in 2014 — a 22 percent increase from 2013. But New York’s two main airports — John F. Kennedy International and LaGuardia — bucked the national trend and actually saw their numbers drop over the same period. At JFK, five firearms were found in 2014, as opposed to ten in 2013. And LaGuardia saw a drop from four to two. But JFK did get a shout-out from the TSA for some of its other seizures from the past year:
In September, a bag containing 33 pounds of marijuana, as well as disassembled handguns and ammunition (artfully hidden in a box of baby wipes), was discovered.
That same month, a sword cane was also found at JFK (similar to the one shown below, recovered at the Omaha Eppley Airfield).
In December, a disassembled .22 caliber firearm was found in a carry-on bag with parts neatly concealed in a PlayStation 2 game console; other components were tucked alongside a camera tripod in the bag.
And in June, three travelers had expandable batons discovered in their bags..
While federal law does not prohibit licensed gun owners from transporting legally obtained firearms across state lines, there is no consistent guideline on interstate firearm transportation. And as TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein points out, “New York has some of the strictest weapons laws in the nation.”
When guns are found on travelers, TSA officers are required to notify police officers working at airports. The officers then interrogate passengers to determine if their guns are licensed — and whether or not the travelers should be arrested.
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This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 23, 2015