Duct tape, modeling clay and a handgun are not standard computer parts

100316blog gun in computer
Credit: TSA

We’ll get to the unusual computer configuration in a moment.

The Transportation Safety Administration may not be the most popular federal agency, but it does put out a blog post every week that is highly entertaining for the look it offers into the scary and sometimes mystifying panoply of weaponry that passengers believe they can either carry onboard or surreptitiously stow in their luggage.

Just this week for instance we have his example of fine cutlery:

100316blog blades in checked bags TSA

The TSA notes: “These 5-bladed floggers were discovered in a carry-on bag at Houston (IAH). All bladed items should be packed in checked baggage.”

And then there’s the live smoke grenade discovered in a checked bag in Phoenix.

100316blog smoke grenade TSA

Which brings us to the computer pictured at the top of this post. TSA explains:  “You can’t see it, but underneath the modeling clay and duct tape is a loaded 9mm firearm inside of a computer. It was discovered in a checked bag at Houston (IAH). Firearms are permitted in checked bags, but they have to be declared, unloaded and properly packed.”

As it happens, I know a guy who works with airport and other checkpoint screening equipment every day. I asked him what he thought of this particular example of weapon-packing.

“I bet it was the modeling clay that was actually detected, not the gun,” he says.  “Checked baggage mostly goes through Automatic Threat Detection Computed Tomography 3D X-ray scanners that detect explosives, without a human looking at the image.  The modeling clay, I suspect, would have similar characteristics to plastic explosives.  That probably generated an actual human to look at the image, and then they saw the gun.  That's what I would have guessed.”

Why some guy thought this was a good way to sneak a gun from Houston to parts unknown is anybody’s guess. Based on the elaborate efforts to conceal it, though, I’m thinking perhaps he didn’t want to declare the weapon because it doesn’t belong to him or he lacked a proper permit.

Consequences? I’ve asked the TSA and will let you know.

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