Fri, Jul 18, 2003
Lethal Teddy Bear Gets Nabbed at Security Checkpoint
Remember that question the screeners asked for years, without
catching anyone: "Has anyone unknown to you given you anything to
carry on this flight?" It's unclear just how to answer that one
(Did you know the store clerk? the street vendor? the
department-store Santa?), but the question is no longer asked.
If it had been, would the 10-year-old boy have even remembered,
much less ratted out the 13-year-old girl who gave him the teddy
The good news is, the dangerous toy got stopped before boarding
the Southwest Airlines flight in Orlando (FL) last week.
The bad news is, the TSA is making
it sould like the agency just saved the world. "It could have gone
off in the child's lap at 30,000 feet," Robert Johnson, director of
communication and public information for the TSA, told reporters.
Or at 2000 feet; or in the trunk of the car -- or any time since
the .22 cal deringer was stolen in 1986 -- any time someone
pulled the trigger. The dangerous part of disarming this "toy"
would be pulling the gun out of the bear -- pulling on the barrel
(the easiest part to get ahold of) could snag the unprotected
trigger. If the gun were cocked and the bear's stuffing didn't get
in the way of the hammer, the person doing the pulling could easily
shoot himself. [Just why the gun should randomly go off "in the
child's lap at 30,000 feet" is something only a 'highly-trained
firearms expert' like Mr. Johnson could explain --ed.]
Anyway, there seems to be no clear trail back to the girl who
gave the boy the bear with the loaded gun inside; nor is there a
motive coming to light. Since the boy does not seem to have any
criminal intent, it is hard to see how, outside of a freak accident
(and they do happen, we know), the bear could have posed a flight
risk. If the girl herself knew of the gun, may remain a question
for a long time, as well.
We're as glad as anyone, though, that that bear didn't make the
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