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TSA Confiscates Raygun Belt Buckle BECAUSE TERRORISM!

Award-winning videographer Sean Malone had a raygun belt buckle confiscated recently by the good folks at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). You know, because all of the 9/11 hijackers were packing rayguns or something.

Malone emails that the pinch happened at LAX:

Same thing almost happened at DCA on my way out to Los Angeles on Sunday, but I argued with them until I got a high enough level supervisor to get it back.

Didn't have time this morning to fight it because I was already late for boarding when it started.

They called it a "replica" of a weapon....

PS. Here is what I wrote on FB Sunday when they tried to take it at DCA:

Now that I'm in a restaurant in Philly, I have time to share more of the stupidity. First, they did a bag check, which happens to me every time I fly anyway, so who cares. When I walked over, the guy said, "Yeah, there's something in there that's kind of shaped like a gun," to which I replied, "Yeah. It's a belt buckle."...

He pulled it out of the bag and looked at it. Yep. Belt buckle. He didn't seem like an idiot, but he called his supervisor over, who instantly made it clear to me that she was one of those petty authoritarian, logic-impaired idiots you often come to expect in positions of middling power in law enforcement. Her word was law... Even when, you know, it wasn't actually law. She said, "Listen, you can either go back out of security and put this in your check luggage (which I don't have), or we'll confiscate it."

But this is honestly my favorite belt buckle, and I'm me, so - realizing I was speaking with a woman with the brainpower of a block of Parmesan cheese - I looked at her and said, "You understand that this is a belt buckle, right? It is not a danger to the safety of anyone nor is it against the law to carry. I have also traveled with this belt buckle all over the country and it's never been a problem. So please explain to me how exactly you would justify taking it."

Her response was to suggest a hypothetical scenario. "What if", she postulated, "you take this object out of your bag and point it - like a gun - at a police officer? He would have no choice to assume that it was a gun, and take action against you."

Now... Let's leave aside for a second that the entire premise behind this argument is that police officers are too dumb and hopped up on their own power that they can't recognize a dangerous weapon from a belt buckle in the shape of a 1950's toy ray gun. I'm glad she recognized this reality, but I don't think she really processed what it says about law enforcement in America. But leaving that aside... Why in the hell would I ever take my belt buckle and point it at a police officer?

To this, she had no answer.

She also had no answer to the point that even if I did that, it would represent a danger to me and not, say... an airplane full of people.

At this point, she got red in the face and loudly declared that she wasn't going to argue with me or "have a debate about this". "You have two options. That's it," she said. So I asked to speak with *HER* supervisor. Fine. She took the belt buckle and walked it over to some other guy far out of earshot and talked to him for a bit while someone else came over and talked to me. Also seemed like a fairly reasonable guy.

Eventually the woman came back, curtly handed me the buckle and said, "Here you go. Have a good flight, sir."

-- I was super late at LAX and I basically got to stage two where mid level supervisor said I couldn't take it on the plane and didn't have enough time to argue up the chain of command.

The agent at LAX said that it's policy to reject all replica weapons.

I pointed out that even if it was a "replica", which is dubious, it would be a replica of a fictional weapon used by Flash Gordon... Which, you know, makes confiscation of the belt buckle even MORE insane than it already was.

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  • anon||

    If this isn't proof that the general public will accept literally anything in the name of "SAFETY!", nothing is.

  • timbo||

    Send that jihadi to gitmo.

  • The Laconic||

    Now... Let's leave aside for a second that the entire premise behind this argument is that police officers are too dumb and hopped up on their own power that they can't recognize a dangerous weapon from a belt buckle in the shape of a 1950's toy ray gun. I'm glad she recognized this reality

    Nice.

  • Restoras||

    ...leave aside for a second that the entire premise behind this argument is that police officers are too dumb and hopped up on their own power that they can't recognize a dangerous weapon...

    Leave aside at your own risk, unfortunately.

  • J Mann||

    "Replicas" of weapons? Like a painting of a sword? How about a model battleship?

  • Mongo||

    Try pointing those at a copper, bub, and see what happens.

  • ||

    Actually he should have told them its not a replica weapon. Rayguns don't actually exist, let alone be weapons. You can't make a replica weapon of something that is not a weapon.

  • Sevo||

    I had one of those. It was a weapon; left a nasty scar on my brother's head.

  • anon||

    All objects in the hands of minors are potential weapons.

    The only solution is to ban everything.

  • Shirley Knott||

    Nah, just ban minors.
    Imagine, a flight with no screaming kids. It must be a dream...

  • Cliché Bandit||

    I fly a lot and have only encountered a screaming infant in one of the last dozen. He was quieted in a matter of moments.

  • anon||

    Yeah, infants screaming in my presence usually are quieted quickly too, but only because of the threats against the parents.

  • Mainer2||

    Hawkeye mentally copes with horrific reality ?

  • SForza||

    Snuffed, I presume.

  • ||

    It's not infants that usually cause a ruckus on a plane. It's those toddlers and pre-schoolers. Those things can produce some decibels.

  • ||

    Let's leave aside for a second that the entire premise behind this argument is that police officers are too dumb and hopped up on their own power that they can't recognize a dangerous weapon from a belt buckle in the shape of a 1950's toy ray gun

    It's actually a pretty accurate premise, though I would amend it to "police officers are too dumb and hopped up on their own power that they can't recognize a dangerous weapon from a belt buckle because they feel like shooting someone that day".

  • anon||

    If you're black, everything looks like a gun on you.

  • ||

    "Does this gun go with my skin?"

  • Sevo||

    No, but it makes you look fat.

  • Malkavian||

    "Now... Let's leave aside for a second that the entire premise behind this argument is that police officers are too dumb and hopped up on their own power that they can't recognize a dangerous weapon from a belt buckle in the shape of a 1950's toy ray gun."

    To be fair, the woman has been trying to save his life.

  • Jordan||

    Sean used to comment here. I miss his epic smackdowns of Tony.

  • Jordan||

    So, would they confiscate my plasma rifle. It's in the 40 watt range.

  • Swiss Servator, spare a franc?||

    Just what you see, buddy!

  • Agile Cyborg||

    "What if", she postulated, "you take this object out of your bag and point it - like a gun - at a police officer? He would have no choice to assume that it was a gun, and take action against you."

    So the TSA is now 'protecting us' from the cops? Little bit of mission creep I'd normally appreciate under far different and less absurd circumstances. Life in 'Merican has truly evolved into a confusing mashup of bureacratic ass crack.

  • Doghouse Riley Jr.||

    Look, you never know when a cop is going to board a plane in mid-flight, Executive Decision-style. I'm sure it happens all the time, right?

  • anon||

    Isn't the real premise in that situation that cops are dangerous?

  • Doghouse Riley Jr.||

    And yet they fly all the time!

  • Agile Cyborg||

    The logic vacuum here is stupefying isn't it?

  • Rob M||

    Last night at the 42nd Street subway station there was a "random" police bag check set up. Along with the 3 or 4 cops there was also a TSA agent. Not sure where the approval for that came from. I guess because NYC is a Constitution Free Zone.

  • Invisible Finger||

    Unless TSA melts the thing immediately, there is a chance some unsuspecting TSA officer could point it at a police officer.

  • ElDuderino||

    That's it, I'm leaving my flashlight at home lest it be confused for a replica of a light saber.

  • Riven||

    Well, you should probably keep that at home for your own private use, right?

    Oh wait... *flash*light... Carry on.

  • LynchPin1477||

    If you go through security with your figner pointed like a gun, you have no choice but to put your hand in checked baggage or allow TSA to confiscate it. Ditt for your voicebox if you go "pew pew".

  • LTMG||

    Happened to me in the pre-TSA days at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport, probably late 1980s. I was wearing a belt buckle in the shape of a M1911 pistol, about 20% the size of the real thing. Police officer at the security station very politely asked me to remove it, which I did. No fuss, no bother, no angst.

  • Agile Cyborg||

    Everyone should really take notice of the human jellyfish here and learn deep lessons about the art of submission and tactical subordination.

  • Swiss Servator, spare a franc?||

    Yeah, like you would have, he should have kicked the cop in the balls and then choked him to death!

  • Agile Cyborg||

    I must look into this method.

  • SForza||

    OT: I'm currently being held against my will short-term to find out if I'll have to decide whether to hold others against their will long-term. Jury duty.

    I'm trying to think of the most effective way to articulate that most of the laws offend my principles, and I will vote to acquit even if it's clear that the accused violated the law. My main goal isn't to make a spectacle of myself, but to be allowed to leave freely.

  • Agile Cyborg||

    but to be allowed to leave freely.

    Within thirty seconds of being questioned I wager...

  • anon||

    My main goal isn't to make a spectacle of myself, but to be allowed to leave freely.

    You know, if they don't send the request via certified mail, you don't have to show up.

  • SForza||

    Is that actually true? Then why am I here?

  • anon||

    Yeah. Otherwise you could be arrested when the postal service loses your mail, which I've heard happens occasionally.

  • SForza||

    Just because it makes no sense (to arrest people whose mail the USPS lost) doesn't mean the government can't or won't do it.

  • anon||

    Well, it is true, I just used that to provide some semblance of reasoning behind the law. Other valid reasons include moving, not having a mailbox, etc.

  • flye||

    Or, you could participate in the process as part of your civic duty and maybe help acquit someone wrongfully accused.

  • anon||

    Or, even better, jury nullification some shit law.

  • Catatafish||

    Damn your cat-like reflexes and agility.

  • flye||

    Exactly.

    I'm a life-long libertarian/Libertarian and I honestly don't understand why politically engaged people would avoid jury duty. I get not voting in elections because statistically it doesn't matter, but on a jury you're one of a handful of people that are granted a lot of power to decide the outcome of a situation. And, you get to try to persuade those other people in private to vote your way.

  • Cyto||

    People who lose income while serving on jury duty have an incentive to avoid it.

    I was chosen for a jury only once. The judge told us it would take about two weeks. One of the questions the judge asked potential jurors was "would being on a jury for two weeks present a hardship?" A few people raised their hand and explained their childcare or employment issues and away they went. We were there for three days and didn't even get to hear a trial. Once they picked the jury they settled the case out of court.

    I was a poor college kid at the time. If I had to sit on a jury for a week or two when I was working 100 hours a week in my thirties I don't think I could have sustained it. I just had too much on my plate to take a week off. Heck, I didn't even take a 3 day weekend for the better part of a decade - and that would have been for my own personal enjoyment.

    Even so, I did want to get picked for a jury. In all the years since, and after answering probably a dozen jury summons, I have never been chosen for a jury. I have only even been taken in to jury selection a couple of times. Usually I just read a novel or two and go home having wasted a day.

  • Catatafish||

    +1 Jury Nullification

  • SForza||

    Assuming juries and militaries are necessary, I don't believe either requires conscription. That said, if I have to serve, I'll serve. But I'll definitely mention jury nullification and the war on drugs.

  • flye||

    But, if you still are trying to get out... I was once asked during voir dire about how I would view someone who told the police one thing then changed their story later. My answer included the phrase "truth is a subjective construct" and that about wrapped it up for me.

  • MegaloMonocle||

    I was once asked during voir dire about how I would view someone who told the police one thing then changed their story later.

    I would have gone off on a rant about how I knew all about cops writing reports from templates and coordinating their testimony.

    Then, "Oh, I thought you asked how I would view the police saying one thing and changing their story later. If a real person does that, I'd have to look at the credibility of the claim that they had changed their story. If its just cops saying that, I'd need some corroborating evidence."

  • Dr. Fronkensteen||

    Before my being on Reason I was asked during voir dire if I thought the police would lie about an investigation. I said the first thing that poped in my head which was "Sure why not, they're human." No jury duty for me.

  • flye||

    To my point about being on a jury, I've had the opportunity to suggest that perhaps the police are less than truthful to some fellow jury members who had never conceived of such a thing.

  • Invisible Finger||

    how I would view someone who told the police one thing then changed their story later.

    My answer would be "on par with a police officer."

  • Roger the Shrubber||

    Ask them to clarify the concept of jury nullification and when it may be appropriate.

  • Rich||

    "What if", she postulated, "you take this object out of your bag and point it - like a gun - at a police officer? He would have no choice to assume that it was a gun, and take action against you."

    With all due respect, that applies to *any* object.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Pointing my finger replicates a gun so do I need to check my fingers?

  • Agile Cyborg||

    And the mental bullets also, dear.

  • AlmightyJB||

    I realize that these are workfare jobs for the otherwise unemployable but you can'take find one person who is not an idiot to make the final calls on this stuff?

  • anon||

    I thought being an idiot was a pre-req for holding a government job.

  • flye||

    SHUT UP... sir.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    "Why?"

    "Because I can. Move along, or I'll have you arrested."

  • anon||

    The worst part?

    The parents complied.

    That speaks volumes more about our society than assholes with power abusing it.

  • MegaloMonocle||

    If it wasn't stupid expensive , I'd love to carry on this thing:

    http://www.wetanz.com/victorio.....ay-pistol/

  • Charles Easterly||

    Thanks, MegaloMonocle, I hadn't heard of "infallible aether oscillators" before.

    Nice.

  • alreadyexists||

  • alreadyexists||

    I see the software that handles comments is defective.

    http://www.tsa.gov/traveler-in.....ammunition

    ***Realistic*** replicas of firearms are also prohibited in carry-on bags and must be packed in checked baggage.

    We have reached the point where it is necessary to travel with print-outs of the TSA website.

  • Ray Sharradh||

    Based on the language used to describe the encounter ("...who instantly made it clear to me that she was one of those petty authoritarian, logic-impaired idiots you often come to expect in positions of middling power in law enforcement"), I can imagine your demeanor during the encounter. I'm not a "rules are rules" kind of person, but I also don't expect total strangers to risk termination from the position of employment that enables them to put food on the table and a roof over their family's head, all on my behalf over my favorite belt buckle. It's one thing to have an issue with the rules, it's quite another to take it out on someone who has absolutely nothing to do with the making of those rules.

  • Svenster||

    They have nothing to do with he making of the rules. Just the enforcement of them.

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