Tales of the TSA: “It’s not a gun, it’s a prop for my monkey”

The Transportation Security Agency (TSA) is back in the news for confiscating a toy monkey’s toy gun that’s all of 2 inches long.

You really have to see the photo of the gun to appreciate how small it truly is.


Even better was the TSA agent’s explanation for why the gun would be confiscated:

“She said ‘this is a gun,’” said May. “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?’” said May.

Phyllis May has a business making sock puppets.  And the “gun” belonged to her cowboy character “Rooster Monkburn.”


I get that the TSA has rules about no guns, even toy guns.  And we’ve written before about the goofy “toys” that people try to bring on planes.  My favorite was the moron who brought toy, but real-looking, grenades on a flight. Though the guy that brought realistic looking plastic explosives, detonator wires and all, is a close runner-up.

Inert grenades found by TSA in carry-on bag

Simulated IED found by TSA

So there are certainly circumstances in which “toys” are unacceptable.

But a clearly-toy miniature gun?

Granted, it’s a judgment call.  And I can see TSA saying that, rather than saying how big the gun, or knife, or fake bomb has to be before it gets confiscated, it’s far easier to just tell people, don’t bring fake weapons in your carry-on.

Still, Al Qaeda is not going to be hijacking a plane using Rooster Monkburn’s pistol that’s the size of your pinkie. (It almost sounds like a Saturday Night Live, or Monty Python, sketch: “Do as I say, or I’ll pretend to shoot you.”)  And who can forget “Lamby,” the lamb doll that was confiscated from a crying 3 year old girl named Lucy, in a wheelchair, just in case Lamby contained explosives:


Lucy and Lamby, in better days.

At some point, there has to be some discretion used to acknowledge that not every rule broken is grounds for calling in the SWAT team.

Since 9/11, both airlines and TSA have gotten a bit of a stick up their butt about the rules.  Personally, I’ve generally had great experiences with the TSA (other than the folks who man the Southwest Airlines wing of DCA – flew them for the first time recently, and the TSA folks there were generally brusque and obnoxious as compared to the other ones at National Airport).  And I find flight attendants run the gamut of nice and friendly, to Sister Jude à la American Horror Story.

Absolute power corrupts.  But so does simplemindedness.  There ought to be a supervisor to step in and acknowledge that Rooster Monkburn won’t be terrorizing the friendly skies anytime soon.

(I’m told that in order to better see my Facebook posts in your feed, you need to “follow” me.)

CyberDisobedience on Substack | @aravosis | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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