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TSA Detains FL Teen with Gun Design on her Purse

Sure, the UK is but a hollow shell of what it once was, but maybe we can take a lesson from their recent experience. When Border Agency passport control workers struck to protest government cutbacks earlier this week, travelers at airports and channel ports found that things actually run much more smoothly with the usual “public servants” walking a picket line. Who knows? This may be exactly what the TSA needs to improve security and keep the flow of passengers moving in this country. It’s hard to see how replacements could do any worse. As an example…

Vanessa Gibbs was returning Florida from a trip to Virginia and carrying a purse worthy of one of our “What could possibly go wrong?” posts. That’s when the ever-vigilant TSA squad at the Norfolk airport detained her. From

Gibbs said she was headed back home to Jacksonville from a holiday trip when an agent flagged her purse as a security risk.

She was like, “This is a federal offence because it’s in the shape of a gun”,’ Gibbs said. ‘I’m like, “But it’s a design on a purse. How is it a federal offence?”‘

After agents figured out the gun was a fake, Gibbs said, TSA told her to check the bag or turn it over.

By the time security wrapped up the inspection, the pregnant teenager had missed her flight, and Southwest Airlines sent her to Orlando instead, worrying her mother, who was already waiting for her to arrive.

Scary, huh? Thank God the TSA was on duty and intervened. Who knows what she could have done with that thing.

Vanessa and her mother said it’s hard to believe anyone could mistake the design on the purse for a real gun because it’s just a few inches in size and it’s hollow, not to mention Vanessa has taken it on planes before.

‘I carried this from Jacksonville to Norfolk, and I’ve carried it from Norfolk to Jacksonville,’ Vanessa said. ‘Never once has anyone said anything about it until now.’

TSA isn’t budging on the handbag, arguing the phony gun could be considered a ‘replica weapon’.

The TSA said: ‘Replica weapons have been prohibited since 2002’.

Judging from the Brits’ experience, the age of government cutbacks and austerity can’t get here soon enough.

[h/t Patrick Brown]


  1. avatar Pete says:

    “Vanessa and her mother said it’s hard to believe anyone could mistake the design on the purse for a real gun because it’s just a few inches in size and it’s hollow….”Hey, these are the same people who expel 2nd graders from school because they point their finger at another child and go “bang – bang”, or bring a 2″ toy plastic soldier to school. You cannot expect idiots who lack judgement to be rational.

    And please, spare me the “zero tolerance policy on violence” lecture. Zero tolerance policies are nothing more than a legal excuse for idiots to avoid having to make rational decisions on the facts of a specific case.

    1. avatar Levi B says:

      Zero tolerance is code for zero responsibility.

  2. avatar Eric S. says:

    My sister lives in Norfolk and she’s received some phone calls from her son’s school over him playing cops and robbers with other kids. Apparently, they think it’s violent and frightening. His dad is in the Navy and just rolls his eyes at this crap, my sister is disgusted by it all.

  3. avatar LC Judas says:

    The TSA seems to believe that a dictatorship is in place starting at the threshold of every transportation hub. I fly and following the rules but I hate every minute I spend inside those little cities. Anything they say goes and whether or not that’s how it should be that’s how it is.

    When I first read it I thought she had been detained for a blueprint, which would be decidedly more dangerous than a flashy metal decal.

  4. avatar DaveL says:

    By the time babies reach the age of about 18 months, they are able to understand the difference between a pictorial representation of an object and the object itself. Apparently the TSA has not yet reached that level of cognitive sophistication.

  5. avatar Graybeard says:

    Somehow, this and the “stupid range rules” post seem to be related.

    Just when you think that you’ve got something fool-proof, up pops a more creative fool.

  6. avatar Chas says:

    As much as it pains me to say it, we have allowed this to happen by our silence, folks. And I’m just as guilty as anyone.

    1. avatar TTACer says:

      “There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.” -Ayn Rand

  7. avatar V65Magnafan says:

    It’s not just the TSA, folks. Prior to a flight from Toronto to Calgary, Canadian inspectors confiscated the two-inch long solid-plastic Glock on my key ring.

    1. avatar Graybeard says:

      To quote that great Sage, Forrest Gump: “Stupid is as stupid does.”

  8. avatar GS650G says:

    I’m more frightened by Obama T Shirts on his supporters than a woman’s purse with a gun on it. One represents support of freedom, the other well you be the judge.

  9. avatar Ralph says:

    Lesson learned. Never try to sneak an assault purse past the TSA, the ever-vigilant guardians of our transportation freedom.

    Now I think I gotta puke.

  10. avatar Hermit says:

    I think we’re all missing the very important point that this purse most likely has a “shoulder thing that goes up” so I’m glad they caught it. Also, something something crime against fashion.

  11. avatar Tom says:

    Hey, the TSA gots to eat also; more bureacracy job security.

  12. avatar Tim says:

    Hopefully she’ll sue for pain and suffering and maybe get something for be accosted by fools. Really don’t think enough people complain to TSA, too often we just shrug it off and chalk it up to ignorance rather than reporting it.

  13. avatar mikeb302000 says:

    Maybe they stopped her for bad taste.

  14. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

    This is a great example of how we’ve become a nation governed by a mob of morons.

    The TSA couldn’t find their generously plump buttocks with one, the other or both hands. Their actions at airports amount to a theatre of the absurd in the quest to bamboozle people into believing that there is something akin to security happening at our airports.

    I haven’t flown since February, 2002, but used to fly at least once/week on business. I have neither the patience nor the humor to deal with a bunch of low-IQ, neo-simian twerps telling me “it’s for security” when one can see from their record that they stopped neither the shoe bomber, nor the underwear bomber and they won’t stop the next terrorist.

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