The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) averted a potential tragedy last week when a security agent in St. Louis managed to confiscate a 2-inch toy pistol from the holster of one air passenger’s sock monkey puppet before she boarded her plane.
According to Seattle-based King 5 News, Phyllis May — a Redmond, Wash., resident who owns a small business selling sock monkey puppets — was attempting to board a Seattle flight in St. Louis with her spouse when a TSA agent spotted one of her dolls, a cowboy-themed creation she’d named “Rooster Monkburn” in commemoration of the famous fictional True Grit character.
May had the outlaw monkey in a carry-on bag that also contained another sock monkey and some monkey-making sewing supplies.
“[The agent] held it up and said, ‘whose is this?’ I realized oh, my God, this is my bag,” May told King 5:
“She said, ‘This is a gun.’ I said, ‘No, it’s not a gun; it’s a prop for my monkey.’”
“She said, ‘If I held it up to your neck, you wouldn’t know if it was real or not,’ and I said ‘Really?’”
The TSA agent told May she would have to confiscate the tiny gun and was supposed to call the police.
“I said, ‘Well go ahead.’ And I said, ‘Really? You’re kidding me right?’ And she said, ‘No, it looks like a gun.’”
In a classic dereliction of duty and lapse of judgment, the unnamed TSA agent never did call the cops, instead returning to May all of the doll-making supplies that had momentarily been confiscated — minus the “pistol.”
“I understand she was doing her job,” said May, “but at some point doesn’t common sense prevail?”
The TSA released a statement concerning the incident Monday, predictably standing behind the agent’s actions and reiterating the agency’s policy on confiscating “realistic” fake weapons.
“TSA officers are dedicated to keeping the nation’s transportation security systems safe and secure for the traveling public,” the agency said. “Under longstanding aircraft security policy, and out of an abundance of caution, realistic replicas of firearms are prohibited in carry-on bags.”