COLUMN: Airport security abuses power
The Transportation Security Administration flagged a teenage girl flying home from Norfolk, Va., causing her to miss her flight.
The girl’s offense? Carrying a purse with a picture of a gun on it.
The TSA claimed flying with the purse was a federal offense because it could be mistaken for an actual weapon. However, pictures of the purse show the gun was merely a design. The purse is rectangular, and the “gun” is clearly plastic, non-functioning and sewn into the bag.
I understand why TSA is wary of guns and of things that could be mistaken for guns. I don’t really want my plane to be evacuated because of a kid’s fake grenade. However, the gun in question is clearly fake. This incident exemplifies why many people hate flying: TSA is abusing its power.
To be clear, I’m not a TSA-hater. I appreciate the fact that I’ve not once been injured by a maniac on a flight, and to a certain extent, I am supportive of the measures the agency takes to make sure I’m safe. I am OK with the full-body scanners that were so controversial earlier this year, and I’m happy to put my travel-sized liquids in a resealable bag.
But this latest incident is not like the necessary, if time-consuming, rules TSA has used in the past. Delaying this teen’s flight over a design on a purse is ridiculous. Common sense would tell any passenger or flight personnel that a purse with a fake gun sewn in is not dangerous.
Furthermore, TSA should not be interfering with passengers’ apparel. Fliers have the right to freedom of expression. No government agency should be passing judgment on people’s clothing or accessories — so long as they clearly are not dangerous.
If TSA is willing to stop a teenager for having an innocent design on her bag, where does it draw the line? Are “Do You Have Your Tickets To The Gun Show?” shirts allowed? They do reference firearms. Can you fly with your Confederate-flag belt buckle? It certainly refers to a very violent past. What about tiny toy soldiers that have miniature plastic (read: fake) swords?
It’s time for TSA to check its power and use some common sense. There’s no reason that a teenager carrying a purse with an obviously fake gun on it should be hassled. All citizens deserve freedom and privacy, whether or not they’re in the air.
Kate McPherson is a journalism sophomore.