Airport Security Detains Teen Over Purse Design

They say it's a banned 'replica weapon'
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 2, 2011 9:00 AM CST
Vanessa Gibbs brandishes her, erm, dangerous purse in this screenshot from Jacksonville's Channel 4.   (

(Newser) – TSA stopped a dangerous 17-year-old from boarding a flight recently because she had a gun—a gun design on her purse, that is. Vanessa Gibbs says she has traveled with her clutch many times, but on a recent flight from Virginia to her native Jacksonville, Florida, it was flagged as a weapon. The TSA agent "was like, 'This is a federal offense because it’s in the shape of a gun,'" Gibbs told News 4. "I’m like, 'But it’s a design on a purse.'"

Eventually the TSA did indeed determine that it was not a bullet-firing purse, but they told her she’d still have to check the bag or turn it over—and by then she had missed her flight. Even now, the TSA says it made the right call, because the purse can be considered a "replica weapon," and those have been banned since 2002. Gibbs is unconvinced. "Common sense," she says. "It’s a purse."

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