The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has once again demonstrated its complete lack of competency and total disregard for employing any type of common sense. News 4 in Jacksonville, Fla., reports that TSA agents at Norfolk International Airport (NIA) in Virginia stopped 17-year-old Vanessa Gibbs at the screening gate because her small purse had an emblem of a gun on it — and they harassed her for so long that she ended up missing her flight home to Jacksonville.
The purse in question is donned with metal studs and an emblem of a small pistol, which Vanessa told reporters reflects her penchant for Western style. The gun design is small and hollow, and obviously not a real weapon, and Vanessa told reporters that she has flown with the purse on numerous other occasions without issue or controversy.
But agents at NIA were apparently unable to differentiate between a real firearm, which has a real barrel and trigger, and the embroidered pistol on Vanessa’s purse. And no matter what the young girl tried to say to the agents, they insisted that the purse was a “security risk” and that she had to either check it into stowed luggage or surrender it to the agency.
“She was like,’This is a federal offense because it’s in the shape of a gun,'” said Vanessa to News 4 reporters about the TSA agent that questioned her. “I’m like, ‘But it’s a design on a purse. How is it a federal offense?'”
The TSA agents involved wasted so much of Vanessa’s time bickering about the harmless purse that the teenager ended up missing her Southwest Airlines flight entirely. The airline bumped the girl onto the next flight, but it was headed to Orlando, which is more than two hours south of Jacksonville. And Vanessa’s mother Tami, who was already waiting for her daughter in Jacksonville, says the experience terrified her.
“I was on the phone all the way to Orlando trying to figure out what was going on with her,” Tami said to News 4. “It was terrifying. I don’t ever want to go through it again.”
Meanwhile, the TSA is sticking by its actions after the fact claiming that the purse technically constitutes a “replica weapon,” which is prohibited by the TSA.