The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screeners confiscated a 3D printed gun replica Wednesday at an airport in Nevada, yet officials still seem to have a problem letting the real guns get through.
The replica, crafted from plastic and resin, was inoperable but still loaded with .22 caliber bullets. Though the gun was a fake, the TSA’s policies treat fake guns like real ones — permitted in checked bags, but banned in carry-ons.
“Realistic-type replica firearms are prohibited because our officers have no way of knowing they are inoperative until they’ve been screened,” Bruce Anderson, a spokesman with the TSA, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
He added: “They have the same impact on the security screening process as a working firearm, causing delays and potential distractions for the entire checkpoint. Thus, these items are classified by TSA as prohibited.”
The man who owned the gun said he forgot it was in his bag — so he willingly left it behind.
This could be the first time a 3D printed replica gun has been confiscated at an airport, a TSA spokeswoman told reporters Wednesday. The agency, responsible for security at American airports, said it confiscated 68 guns in total last week.
The 3D gun prototype, called the “Liberator,” was designed in 2013 by Cody Wilson, a law student at the University of Texas, who distributed the schematics on the weapons’ design on his website, Defense Distributed. The blueprints were downloaded nearly 10,000 times before the State Department ordered Wilson to remove them from the website.
Wilson’s creation is capable of firing a standard .380 handgun round without visible damage.
Shortly after the downloads went viral, reporters from the Daily Mail printed a 3-D gun using Wilson’s blueprint and managed to sneak it through security on a crowded train in Europe without setting off security alarms.
TSA has been pressured recently to take smuggled guns seriously, as the agency has a poor track record stopping people from smuggling guns on planes.
“Two reporters passed completely unchallenged through strict airport-style security to carry the gun on to a London to Paris service in the weekend rush-hour, alongside hundreds of unsuspecting travelers,” the Daily Mail reported, which essentially exposed a “massive international security risk” these ghost guns can pose to security at airports and train depots.
An internal investigation inside the TSA in 2015 revealed that inspectors were able sneak a slew of mock explosives and weapons through airport security in nearly 70 tests conducted around the U.S.
Other reports appear to show the TSA in a unfavorable light, unable to competently fulfill its responsibility.
According to a Department of Homeland Security audit, for instance, the agency failed to identify 73 airport workers “linked to terrorism.”
The audit read: “TSA acknowledged that these individuals were cleared for access to secure airport areas despite representing a potential transportation security threat.”
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