From the land formerly known as Great Britain comes today’s example of zero tolerance stupidity commonly known as modern airport security theater. Claire Sharp, a former special branch officer, was flying out of London Stansted Airport when the Brit equivalent of a TSA agent noticed the one-inch-long charm she was wearing around her neck. The gun pendant had been given to her by her late husband.
The mum-of-three, who is now a company director for her own dog food company, says she has travelled through other airports in the UK, abroad and even Stansted in the past, and not had the gold pendant removed.
She said: ‘I was being searched by a female security officer and she saw my necklace and said ‘this might be a problem’.
The mindless drone called in a more senior mindless drone to examine the clearly dangerous object Ms. Sharp was trying to smuggle aboard an airliner.
‘I explained it was just a charm, that it had been bought for me by my late husband and that it had been through airport security on loads of occasions – including Stansted – without issue.
‘He then took it off to ask his supervisor and came back saying it would need to be confiscated as it was an imitation firearm.
‘He said it could either be posted to me at a charge or kept at the airport until I returned to the UK. I opted for the latter. However, when we returned, I was charged £8 to get it back.
Thank heavens the Civil Aviation Authority had their top people working that day, otherwise Ms. Sharp might have actually managed to get that dangerous little trinket on board.
‘The lack of common sense displayed at Stansted was astounding. To be charged £8 for the privilege of their idiocy just added insult to injury. My fingers underneath my jumper pointed at someone looks more like a real gun than my necklace.
‘I told the security officer that the necklace had huge sentimental value and why but they didn’t care.
When asked about the incident, a nameless airport security flack was every bit as apologetic and contrite as you’d expect a bureaucratic functionary to be.
A spokesman said: ‘Apologies for the inconvenience caused. However, under CAA regulations any novelty items, replicas and imitation firearms capable of being mistaken for real weapons will be deemed unsuitable for carriage and reasonably would be confiscated at our security.
‘We understand that security is not one of the most pleasant parts of your journey, however for the safety of everyone, this is our top priority and all regulations must to be adhered to.’
What’s sad is that it’s not like airport security is any better or more intelligently handled on this side of the Atlantic. Chalk it up to a toxic combination of garden variety government organizational fatuousness and the ongoing effort to stigmatize, de-legitimize and other-ize firearms and the people who own them. Good times.