NEWS: Man Packing a Tactical Pen Arrested for Carrying a Concealed Weapon at Palm Beach International Airport

TSA Math

I recently came across this “Workforce Stories” article on the TSA’s website about a guy who was issued a criminal summons for a carrying a concealed weapon when he tried to board a fight carrying a Tactical Pen in his backpack.

Below is the TSA article unedited:

When is a pen not just a pen? The answer is when it doubles as a potential weapon.

A TSO at Palm Beach International (Fla.) was working the X-ray machine when he came across an anomaly on the screen and called for a search of a passenger’s backpack. Inside, the responding Officer discovered a tactical pen, used commonly by law enforcement as a defense tool with its sharp aluminum-based point on one end and blunt portion on the other.

A Supervisory TSO confirmed that item was a prohibited item. The police responded and issued the passenger a criminal summons to appear in court – under the state statute – for carrying a concealed weapon. He was cleared for travel and there were no flight delays.”

Interesting right? When I was reading this I was thinking “man, I have carried a Tactical Pen on airplane flights dozens of times”. This sort of freaked me out because if I was arrested for carrying a concealed weapon I would be 100% fucked because I would lose my security clearance = never work as a Civilian Contractor again – EVER.

One thing I was wondering is; if this guy was not boarding an Airplane could he still have been arrested for Carrying a Concealed Weapon? As far as I know [just off the top of my head] as long as the pen writes it is still considered a pen, so only Tactical Pens that don’t write or don’t have ink could be considered a “weapon” right?

Wrong! [Well, sort of] this is what my Criminal Defense Attorney friend told me:

So I asked a buddy of mine who is a criminal defense attorney if he thought I could be arrested for carrying a concealed Tactical Pen and he said quote;

“As long as you were not boarding an aircraft, entering a city or state building, a prison or school and the Tactical Pen still wrote I could probably get you off but it would cost you about 15 grand – but why even take the risk, when in doubt just don’t do it, you don’t need the headache dude”

15 G’s to some lawyer’s country club membership just to get me off the hook for packing a 40 dollar Tactical Pen?

Well, that was pretty much all I needed to hear, so no more carrying Tactical Pens in the US for me unless I am in a state where I have a “Concealed Weapons Permit” [Note I said “weapons” and not “handgun” or “firearms” Permit, as these permits only cover firearms].

Anyway, for the Tactical Pen enthusiasts reading this you may want to reconsider carrying your tactical pen around [especially concealed] unless you have 15 thousand clams sitting around [or you don’t mind prison man rape]. And definitely don’t even think about packing one if you are going to board a flight.

If any LEO’s are reading this chime in and let us know if you would arrest someone for carrying a concealed weapon if they were packing a Tactical Pen.

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~James G
Founder – Editor in Chief

James G is a Veteran Civilian Contractor who has worked in the Middle East and Southeast Asia for way too long; he has traveled to over 50 countries chasing fortune and glory. He spends his off time in Indonesia and Virginia getting drunk, shooting guns, writing poorly written articles and selling his Tactical Pen collection on ebay. James G. on FACEBOOK

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58 thoughts on “NEWS: Man Packing a Tactical Pen Arrested for Carrying a Concealed Weapon at Palm Beach International Airport”

  1. James,

    I wonder if there is any documented cases in where a “tactical pen” has been used in defense, crime etc?

    I bet you could find quite a few cases in where a common no 2 pencil or pen has been used to stab the dog shit out of someone?

    FTG!

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  2. That is the problem with “tactical pens” and for that matter flashlights with all manner of spikes and “DNA collectors” on them.

    They provide only slightly more utility (and the verdict is still out on that) compared to a good solid pen or a regular run of the mill Surefire. Yes the “strike bezel” might do a bit more damage but I am sure the asshat on the plane that you are striking in the face with it probably won’t be able to tell the difference.

    Same thing with that stout Zebra pen you just stuck into his neck.

    The only think those purpose built items do is announce to everyone in the know what you intend on using them for.

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    1. …or that you’re not only tactical as shit, you’re also a total geardo (in the bad way). In my opinion, “tactical” pens are gay.

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    2. Kind of agree with you there. One reason I like the Olight m20 so much is the strike bezel can be removed with out changing the whole head, making it “just a flashlight.”

      I fear it was only a matter of time until TSA cracked down on the pen.

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    3. I agree with you Wayne. Skip the tacti-cool pen all together and just carry a sturdy pen that does essentially the same thing.

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  3. Hey James G. and DVM! I have been reading DVM articles for a while. Love it! Regarding the tactical pen, I think there are some that could pass as a regular pen and are low profile. The Surefire pens come to mind as there are no sharp points. What really got me thinking as I read this article is the fact that if the TSA and other LE officers see tactical pens as weapons then what is the possibility of a tactical flashlight being considered a weapon? I travel frequently and am always packing a light in my carry-on bag.

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  4. First off, I think a Tactical Pen being a “Concealed Weapon” in some sort of legal sense is BS. I just bought a full metal clickie Zebra pen that is relatively sturdy by pen standards, and I bet I could jam it pretty deep into someone’s jugular if I had to and it’s just a pen, no fancy fluting or crenelated ends. The TSA gonna arrest me?

    BTW I’m and LEO. I’m not going to arrest anyone merely for possessing a tactical pen in some area that is verboten for “weapons”.

    I have two stories I”ll try to keep brief. Both involve air travel. One is pre and one is post 9/11.

    In the late 90’s I have to fly to see my dying, career MIL grandfather. I have a carry on only. I am a newly minted cop. I have a direct flight out but have one layover returning. I get to the security area with my carry on (I had no checked bags) wallet, badge wallet and a small spyderco.

    I put it all in the xray bin. The knife is in plain sight. They inspect it, see my badge (I have no idea if they cared about the badge)…GIVE IT ALL BACK TO ME…INCLUDING THE SPYDERCO.

    I board the plane and l visit my grandfather w/o incident. On the return flight, I do the exact same thing. The screener says I can’t have the knife, that I have to put it in my checked bags. I explain I have the carry on only and I flew out here with the knife and was not questioned about the knife. She insists I have to check it. So I end up putting the tiny spyderco in a mailing tube that they check as luggage and I get on the plane.

    At my layover, I to to the carousel, open my tube, take my knife and proceed to the connecting terminal to go home. I start the same process…bag, badge, wallet, and knife. The screener sees the knife in the xray bin, screams out some code and the world of security arrives. They question me about the knife. I explain all of the above and how inconsistent it was.

    The screener gives the knife to some supervisor who does the palm/blade measure test which and deems it “small enough” to be given back to me. I board the plane WITH THE SPYDERCO IN MY POCKET and return to my home airport without delay. FYI, there is no size restriction for general knife carry in that state…i checked afterwords.

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    1. the 2nd story is post 9/11. (2003) I’m charged with picking up my relative’s “unescorted minor” from a plane trip. I ‘m still an LEO and I know better than to show up with any weapon since I have to go beyond security to pick him up. I only have my badge wallet, regular wallet and car keys on a kuboton I carried at the time.

      I got to the ticket counter and explain my situation, they issue me a generic boarding pass for a unrelated city so I can present it when I get to the xray scanner. When I get there, I explain to the first screener my plan to pick up the minor. He ignores me, takes my boarding pass and puts it on top of the xray machine with everyone elses pass.

      I dump all my wallets and kuboton keys in the bin. The 2nd screener stops every things and asks me about the kkuboton. I tell him It’s my “keyring” He says…ITS A MARTIAL ARTS WEAPON… I am detained and they call the local police which has a full time airport division. I wait hoping I won’t be arrested. The screeners don’t ask me any questions and I dont volunteer anything.

      The local cop talks to the screeners then me. I have no idea if they saw my badge yet or not. When I cop talks to me I tell him my story and that I now better than to bring a “weapon” past security and that it’s just my keyring. He seems miffed at the screeners and he says he has to confiscate the kuboton but I am free to go.

      I gets my info for his report and I continue with minimal delay. The cop even says that if he’s around when I leave, he’ll give back the “keyring” . I think I got lucky. I could have gotten some hard ass.

      My main point is I hope that if Im called to some situation where a pen becomes the source of a weapons debate, I think I’ll get all the facts and be rational and not fall in to some Zero tolerance BS that plagues situations like this.

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      1. And thanks for the response Jason, glad to hear that you are an LEO with a good head on his shoulders

        ~James G

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    2. Wow. I NEVER had anyone question my knives pre 9/11. Yep, two of them. I have a tiny little Buck folder I keep on my keyring, and a variety of folders. I’ve always carried a knife, ever since my dad gave me my first one when I was a little dude. I’m a farm kid, maker, tinkerer, mechanic, artist, etc etc, and I use my knives daily. There was never a rule against them back then, and I took them everywhere. Now, as usual, the rules only hurt the law abiding individuals, and the bad guys continue to do what they want. But as mentioned, you just keep alternative weapons handy when you fly. And keep other alternatives handy. Hand cuffs are a little obvious, and I knew one guy who caught shit from the screeners for having a bunch of zip ties in his carry on. So I use several zips to hold my luggage tag on (for those that don’t know, you can open them again with a knife point in the lock tab). I also have some black ones on my backpack buckles (they’re reinforcement, officer). They’ve never been noticed or at least never mentioned. Survival bracelets are a little goofy in some ways, but if I need to tie someone up or apply a tourniquet, I have one handy (in my bag, not on my arm). And I don’t know about you guys, but I have extra pistols stored in the cities I have to fly into on a regular basis. Prevents me from checking bags or dealing with any of the other “traveling with guns” BS. I land, get to where I need to be, and I’m armed again. Damn, I love CCW permit reciprocity! :)

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  5. To me the ‘tactical pen’ seems like a silly tactical fashion industry accessory. Is it really worth the attention it attracts, with its fancy cutouts and crenellations? A normal, sturdy aluminium pen will do just as well as an improvised weapon, without drawing attention to itself.

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  6. I have a Stainless Steel Sharpie, is a solid pen that I could use to beat someone in the face wit without it breaking right away.

    http://www.deathvalleygroup.com/f/viewtopic.php?f=41&t=224

    I do find it odd that you can’t carry a tactical pen on an airplane but you can carry an umbrella – Bartitsu anyone?

    ~James G

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  7. …or that you’re not only tactical as shit, you’re also a total geardo (in the bad way). In my opinion, “tactical” pens are gay.  

    I agree. I carry a standard Surefire G2 when traveling more for the purpose of finding shit in my bag. I can also use it as a defense tool by temporarily blinding or striking a fool with it.

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    1. There’s a world of difference between having good shit (like your G2) or something like this: http://www.geekologie.com/2008/03/porcupine_flashlight_is_sharp.php

      Seriously, it’s like wearing the 5.11-tuxedo to your babys baptism.

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      1. It is only a matter of time before someone mounts a Bayonet onto a Tactical Flashlight

        ~James G

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  8. Great article, and clearly something that a lot of people in this line of work need to read. Have you ever thought about doing a follow-on article about “TSA Approved” improvised weapons like keys, umbrellas, Sharpie markers, etc?

    Either way, content like this is DVM at its best.

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    1. An article like that is sort of stepping into the Tradecraft “Black Arts” realm that I am not comfortable with throwing out publicly to un-vetted people.

      I teach a class with my brother that has instruction on improvised weapons and H2H on commercial aircraft once or twice a year to vetted people [mostly contractors, at-risk businessmen, Pilots, Cabin Crew, LEO’s and NGO folks] if you are interested, just shoot me a message on the contact page for more info.

      ~James G

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  9. Yeah, I guess that was sort of a dumb idea…you can tell I’m in management because I can’t seem to go more than an hour or so without saying something stupid. I could just see Al-Jazeera airing a broadcast of Al-Qaeda members following a successful hijacking where they give full credit for their success to an article on DVM.

    No matter whether you say it in English or Arabic, though, this website is pretty pimp.

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  10. Isn’t it legal to carry tools like long shank screw drivers and wrenches if you say they’re part of your job? The TSA is a total failure.

    This is the same agency that wouldn’t let my 20oz. coke on the plane but said nothing about my 3L camelback full of water. Its pretty clear they just make shit up as they go.

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  11. I think this just shows the absurd inconsistencies and idiocy that is the TSA and their “rules”. Because they aren’t really rules, rules are blind, subjected to everyone and have a modicum of consistency.

    Now I can see if they said that a brand like Benchmade’s tactical pens which have serious point on them. I can see them having a problem (albeit irrational problem) with something like that. But say CountyComm’s version which is all rounded no edges but certainly could be used as a Kobuton I am not sure how they could make the case for that being “illegal”. They are essentially the same thing with the same purpose.

    I have chatted up a couple times on here about tactical pens and have come to the conclusion that they for the most part are an expensive waste of time. A sturdy plastic ball point pen can pierce skin given enough force, if you want to get creative take a fountain pen.

    For me and air travel it is an Impact Karambit which I pass off as a golf shoe wrench, a sturdy flashlight, (without scalloped ends) and a roll of quarters. Also maybe a lock that can be put on a length of 550 cord. That is it. With the Karambit I have walked through airline security with it, embassy security, Parliament security and a number of places. I have gotten a couple knowing looks a couple times but all they could really do is confiscate it. It says travel wrench on the side of it and the wrench parts are well used.

    If you want a weapon on board, think creatively like a ballpoint pen, hard covered book, rolled up magazine etc. We all I am sure have thought or discussed this at some point along the way.

    And if you do travel with one and security does let you through. Mark it, keep the tickets, hell take a picture of you and it behind security, preferably with a date on the pic. Then when some guy with a bad day calls you on it and you have your day in court, you have ample evidence that you couldn’t have possibly known since you have been allowed it through time and time again.

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  12. honestly, I don’t see the point in tactical pens anyway.
    any semi-decent stainless (or even plastic) run of the mill pen from your local stationers will do pretty much the same job, except maybe break a window like some are desingned to do.

    hell, one of my friends ended up hospitalised due to being stabbed with a run of the mill biro a couple of years back.

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  13. Ball point pen will do quite nicely in a pinch. There is no consistency in security policy when it comes to the TSA. One place its ok and the next its not. I have had my fricken tape measure nearly confiscated in Seattle once. I have never had a problem with my Hellfighter flashlight with the “interrogator bezel.” Funny how that works. No brainpower there at the TSA. Not recruiting from high in the genepool there. Again, the Israeli’s dont have any of this crap over there. They interview everyone (at the ticket counter) and look for the signs that people are up to no good. That sure as hell makes more sense. We here eliminate that for kiosks and go though scanners. What stupidity…my dos pesos.

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  14. People talk to fuckin’ much. That’s what this comes down to.
    I remember ten years ago, on Bladeforums, some folks talking about building a machined from billet (Al. or Ti.) pen, that could double as an impact weapon; Maybe put a point on one end. Very discreet, just a pen, not overly marketed. Make it, and the knowing will buy. At the time there were very few folks interested in making one. Then some custom knifemakers got into pens, and Greg Lightfoot brought out a “Tactical” pen. And it’s been downhill ever since. Suddenly everyone makes one of these, and they are all labeled and sold as weapons. What the fuck do people expect? These things should be subtle, not advertised everywhere.

    I’m carrying the same cheap heavy stainless steel pen I’ve carried for years when traveling: Large diameter barrel, continual convex taper to the point, flat top. Great pen, one of Wal-Mart’s faux-fancy brands they sell in sets around Christmas time.

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    1. “I cant hold a standard pen due to hand injuries, are YOU violating the Americans with Disabilities Act???” You should see the TSA hop and jump when they try messing with my oversized and knurled titanium ball point. Of course I have the scars on my knuckles that make them not even risk challenging it, but I have had them try to yell weapon at more than one facility. These morons are just there for the exercise of their own self importance for the most part, and have no clue, if they did the would be working real law enfocement jobs. Lets face it folks, these are the losers who couldnt pass the psych and physical evals and are out for vengeance.

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  15. Jeez….Thousands Standing Around strikes again!

    Lawyer buddy is right, if you consider an object a weapon, then do yourself a favor and don’t give the TSA guys a reason to mess with you. These guys have no clue! They choose to enforce regulations that are passed on by their management (also no clue) and don’t even use commonsense in doing their job. Don’t get me wrong I think they are needed, but need to be educated on how to do their jobs.

    As an LEO, I can tell you that I would look at what it is you are considering a weapon and play it by ear. The totality of the circumstance determines what action I will take. But I will advise you to be polite and patient when you are dealing with this sort of thing because the last thing you want is an asshole determining what to do with you.

    I also travel a lot and am always amazed at how ridiculous the TSA is.
    I would say that I am outed as traveling armed by these guys more that you would even imagine. I had a guy yell into his radio ” I need a supervisor for an armed LEO at the podium” with people behind me staring. Talk about putting people at risk! Now everyone knows I have a gun. In that situation, I asked for their supervisor and gave him a ass chewing. They apologized and I took a different flight because of the incident. thanks for the great articles and be safe

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  16. IMO, this is BS. Low profile or not. If your a trained martial artist, I would hope that part of your training would include using your environment. Anything can become a weapon in the hands of a skilled martial artist. Hell, you dont needs them if your legit. This whole TSA Zero tolerance policy bull shit is just Security Theater. Security measures designed to give the impression that something is being done to “prevent/protect/stop/complicate” would be terrorist, when in fact, they do absolutely nothing to prevent said terror. Heres a little over the top pic (http://media.photobucket.com/image/knife%20with%20surefire%20accessories%20joke/creator0203/evil_black.jpg) Also attached in reply. I tried finding a picture I once saw of a guy who put every tacti-cool accouterment on his KA-BAR. I’ll see if I can find it.

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  17. BWAHAHAHAH!!! I found it! The Sniper Knife… For all your long range throwing needs. LMAO (http://www.funz.eu/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/Ultimate-Sniper-Knife.jpg)

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  18. Wouldn’t this make the “space pen” verboten as well? Irregardless of weather you or I would consider it a weapon of some kind…

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  19. For any one who is interested, I thought I would also share something I found on Gizmodo. http://www.ballisticsystemsco.com/

    Ballistic Clip Boards. I just thought it would be in line with the ridiculousness of saying a pen, regardless of make or model, is any more than a pen. Why not add your ballistic clipboard to your office, and on site needs.

    [img]http://www.deathvalleymag.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/Screen shot 2010-12-23 at 1.31.07 PM.png[/img]

    Apologies in advanced for all the images.

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  20. James,I wonder if there is any documented cases in where a “tactical pen” has been used in defense, crime etc?I bet you could find quite a few cases in where a common no 2 pencil or pen has been used to stab the dog shit out of someone?FTG!  

    Face it – the TSA bastards are just a bunch of KGB-wannabes, not enough balls to go into military, but they get a cushy job paid for by our money, and get to bully, threaten,m grope and molest- a dream job for a f-cking psycho who can’t hold a REAL job.

    To answer your question, back in the Nam era, a friend of mine who worked for a quiet agency, did indeed terminate a VC with a number one pencil, one blow to the throat, one blow through the left eye. So the nancy-boys of the TSA will likely want to end the carrying of pencils.

    Fookin’ commie bastards!

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  21. I’ve been a cop in Southern California for well over 25 years and I would never take/confiscate or cite someone (other than a parolee or probationer) who possessed a tactical pen during a routine contact and I’m not really sure that I could. I think it would greatly depend on one’s answers to the question of why you are in possession of the pen (ie: for protection (possibly wrong answer) or for use as a pen) and one’s demeanor (like every thing else).

    Virtually anything can be considered a weapon especially by the fucktards at TSA who apparently have order’s from the Allmighty himself to make those determinations.

    I have a brief story of an actual incident that happened to me a year after 9/11. As I was going through the metal detectors, I put my badge and other pocket items in the little box, and proceeded through the metal detector. A TSO saw the imprint of my flat badge (a seven point star) on my wallet and opened the wallet.

    The TSO idiot actually told me that my badge was a weapon…a trowing star…and would not be allowed on the plane. It took two supervisors to sort out the issue and allow me to board with my badge and they finally apologized. The funny thing is that I could have taken a department letter with me and carried my gun on the flight like I usually do (and have since) and then they wouldn’t have said a thing.

    Remember that they’re just TSO’s with widely varying levels of education and experience. Most have not been LEO’s and have no real feel for interpretation of the law and when/how to enforce it. TSA seems so intent on trying to simplify and unify the operation that common sense goes out the window first. Just my two cents.

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  22. Federal courts have long held that something that has a legal, legitimate purpose is not a weapon even if it’s already been used as one, if it’s not being used as one AT THAT MOMENT. My department had a case where a PCP intoxicated person stabbed a police dog with a 6″ bladed screwdriver.

    When this suspect approached the officer, holding the screwdriver in an ice-pick grip (he’d been making “stabbing motions” with it the entire contact) the officer ended the problem. It was ruled that EVEN THOUGH the suspect had stabbed the police dog with it, there was no indication that he intended to stab the officer, therefore it WAS NOT a weapon.

    But I don’t think that the TSA will bother with this little detail. I’ve been carrying a “tactical pen” that has a blunt end which threads onto the other end to expose the writing tip for years. I’ll continue to do so.

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  23. The cop even says that if he’s around when I leave, he’ll give back the “keyring”

    So the cops can decide to keep your personal property? I would have told them I would put it back in my car. Or demand to have it returned to me upon exiting.

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  24. A big No. 2 “My First” Ticonderoga wooden pencil and a Zebra steel ball-point pen is what I carry every day. As I am in the aviation biz, I spend time ‘near’ the TSA ‘operators’ regularly and have never been bothered. I cannot attest as to their functionality as weapons.

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  25. At least the Florida concealed weapons permit allows you to carry a tactical pen, but not in airports. When you travel to another state, your concealed weapons permit may only allow you to carry a firearm if that’s all the state you’re visiting allows under their concealed carry laws.

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  26. The government knows all too well how to market fear and exploit it to take away our rights. My solution? Anyone who boards a plane gets a stun gun. If you abuse it you go to jail.

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  27. My father told me a story about the legendary Joe Foss. Apparently Joe was going through security at an airport and had his Medal of Honor taken from him because the idiots again thought it was some kind of a weapon.

    In this case they didn’t get that the “weapon” was our nation’s highest medal for valor and proceeded to seize it. Joe put up quite a fuss (as did several nearby passengers) and they finally gave it back to him. I don’t remember if it was TSA or prior to 9/11.

    The real irony was that he had the medal in his pocket and was actually in route to one of the service academies to give a speech on freedom…God help us! If the name Joe Foss isn’t ringing a bell, please look him up, the whole situation gets even more pathetic when you see how he spent his life.

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  28. Found the site of the lawyer that represented this guy… In the end, the case was dropped…

    http://www.justiceflorida.com/2010/11/articles/concealed-weapons/concealed-weapons-and-traveling-on-airplanes/#more

    I’m looking to see if there’s anymore info.

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    1. Great to hear that – Too bad the case did not go to court, because then their would be a statute on the books saying that a Tactical Pen was not a weapon

      ~James G

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  29. So, the pen IS mightier that the sword!

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  30. God help you if you have duty related explosives residue, and set off the scanner. I was in uniform and in a sling going on convalescent leave (missing two fingers not explosive related) and had detcord, and C4 residue on my uniform from recent door breaching training.

    The dog alerted to my Oxycodone (prescribed) and I was seperated for additional screening, the machine goes off for explosives and I was detained. I had a valid US Army ID, and a real uniform, the Rx is on the bottle with my name and SSN on it. I would have lost my anal virginity to a glove until a supervisor with sense told them to let me go.

    I did get a complementary golf cart ride to my plane. All in all fuck the TSA, they have no judgement, or if they do they do not use it.

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  31. Great site guys. Just thought I would jump on the TSA sucks band wagon, two years ago I was returning from a work training program, I got to the screener at a large airport with my laptop backpack.

    Started to tear it open and the screener stops me, stating she NEVER checks backpacks. I was cool with having the process smoothed out for ME, figured if I pitched a bitch the airport would come to a screeching halt. I wanted to get home. Hind sight being what it is I pray nothing bad ever happens out of that airport.

    Merry Christmas

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  32. 4 years and a dozen trips ago, I lost a knife after putting it my carryon bag that I checked. I have not checked the bag since. While returning from my last vacation (to clarify- the second half of a roundtrip) TSA finally found my knife for me. This knife has been rattleing around a bag I have carried on flights for 4 years. I wish they would have found it for me before I spent the money to replace it.
    On the same trip during the “Enhanced Patdown/ Playboy Scanner” trip, after rushing to get kids shoes off and through the metal detector, I went through. On collecting my shoes I realized I still had a wad of keys, a couple bucks in change, cell phone and metal belt buckle on. The metal detector never twitched. The entire family flew out and back with out going through the mandatory enhanced screening.
    I got the feeling I could have carried an M-4 through with out much notice as long as I didn’t have 20 lbs of gear hanging off the rails.

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  33. I just flew yesterday for the first time in about a year and half, so I reviewed the TSA’s rules to make sure I didn’t violate them (like carrying a deadly printer cartridge or a felonious snow globe). I found out I can take a screwdriver that is up to 7 inches in length in my carry-on. (http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/prohibited/permitted-prohibited-items.shtm). I thought about bringing a screwdriver with me, but I was afraid I would get an unscheduled prostate exam.

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  34. The entire TSA is such a colossal failure especially when you consider we have readily available resources, via Israeli, for building a solid, efficient, and less invasive screening tactics. Yet they continue to wonder around like a blind angry animal doing nothing but biting their own and doing next to nothing to solve an issue.

    James G had an article a while back about Bug Out Bags and discussed using a normal everyday water bottle as an effective weapon. A couple of weeks ago someone was demonstrating the use of string, yes string, as a very effective weapon and arresting tool in a Taiho Jutsu class. Anything is a weapon with a little creativity and or training. Just cause you tag it with “Tactical” and make it look a little more aggressive does not make it any more deadly.

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  35. Thanks for the tip! – guess I will be leaving the tactical pens at home from now on while flying. Had them with me on flights a dozen times – even hand inspected by the TSA crowd and handed back to me with “nice pen Sir” while they put my regular (okay – heavy silver) Fountain Pen back through the scanner – “just in case Sir as it feels heavy”. Also will have to make sure I am not wearing gloves – would not want my fists to be considered a concealed weapon – LOL

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  36. Stupidity knows no boundaries.

    Two years ago, while leaving Paris Roissy-Charles de Gaulle Airport, an airport security screener removed the locking carabiner from my carry-on backpack. I use the carabiner to connect it to my checked suitcase.

    I had not had any issues with the carabiner in any of my air travels prior to that.

    Not knowing French, I sort of pantomimed to the guy, “WTF??” He held up the carabiner in his hand like it was a pair of brass knuckles. Would he have considered it a weapon if it were a standard gate carabiner? The sonofabitch just wanted my $10 carabiner; that was the bottom line.

    So, be aware. There are “knuckleheads” like that French asshat in every airport in the world. And your carabiners are potential weapons in their tiny little minds.

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  37. My old man tells a story that back in the late 70s in Australia he got on a 737 for an interstate flight with a pump action shot gun (now illegal in oz) over his shoulder and no one even check if it was loaded.

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    1. I find the Australian story about the shotgun extremely difficult to believe. I am a retired Oz cop (i started my career in the early 70s) and have travelled all over the great land downunder, including to some very ‘outback’ locations where there is no airport security to speak of. I know of no place in Australia where the aircrew would allow an unsecured firearm of any description onto a commercial aircraft, even if the ground staff allowed the passenger carrying the firearm to get that far -which is highly unlikely.

      Even on-duty police have to surrender their firearms for the duration of the flight when they travel by air. It makes for an inconvenient trip when doing prisoner escorts, but we do not have many aircraft hijackings in this neck of the woods, so it is worth the inconvenience.

      To give you a feel for how strict things are over here, several years back, the commissioner of the second largest police force in the country got sprung at the security point with a few rounds of 38special in his carry on. Mucho embarrassmento for him and a great laugh for the rank and file!

      So let’s not have anymore tall tales from ‘the outback’. Shotguns on shoulders. What a crock!

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  38. What’s next? Rocks? I’ m serious. I’d bet good cash money that some serious amateur rock or fossil collector tries to get some samples through the TSA, and his samples are ” confiscated ” . For everyone’s safety, of course. Anything that can be picked up in one hand can be used as a weapon. A roll of duct tape can be a weapon, if properly used. For God’s sake, even a credit card is a weapon. It’s simply a matter of the TSA agent using common sense, as well as a sense of proportion of the moment. Oops. Did I say ” common sense ” ? Damn. My mistake. I’m sure that that’s not initial issue for the TSA.

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  39. I know you should just be able to laugh but sometimes you just want to mallet someone in the face…

    TSA detains Marine escorts
    Trio escorting body of fallen comrade are stripped of dress blue coats, searched at airport

    By Gidget Fuentes
    Times staff writer

    It wasn’t the city of “brotherly love” for a trio of Marine noncommissioned officers escorting the body of a fallen Marine through the Philadelphia airport.

    Each decked in their blue dress uniforms, the three enlisted Marines made their way through a security checkpoint at the Philadelphia International Airport about noon on May 3 when they were pulled aside by security workers with the federal Transportation Safety Administration.

    The Marines — a sergeant and two corporals — were escorting the body of Sgt Lea R. Mills from Dover Air Force Base, Del., to his family in Gulfport, Miss. Mills, who was married and lived in Oceanside with his wife, was killed in Iraq on April 28 by a roadside bomb. He was one of three leathernecks killed that day in Iraq’s Anbar province.

    They were brothers-in-arms. Like Mills, the Marine escorts are members of the Camp Pendleton-based 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion.

    The trio had to go through the terminal’s security in order to reach their flight that would take them to Houston and make sure that Mills’ body was properly placed on the airplane. While their uniforms likely would trigger the metal detector, they had figured they would be able to zip through the screening process and get on with their business.

    “Wearing the blues, the metal detector is going to go off,” said Sgt John Stock, a mechanic, who was accompanied by Cpls Aaron Bigalk and Jason Schadeburg.

    But as the Marines went through the initial screener in their dress blues, they were stopped by several TSA agents. Each was told to remove their dress uniform blouse, belt and black dress shoes, which were scanned by the detector, as the agents scanned them with hand-held detecting wands.

    “They had me take off my shoes and ran them through the screening,” Stock said, speaking by phone May 5 from Gulfport, where the men are helping with Mills’ family and funeral support. “We all got searched.”

    Then they were taken to a nearby room, where TSA workers patted them down.

    At one point, Stock’s shoes disappeared, leaving him to frantically search for them and retrieve them from a TSA agent. Separated from their belongings, which included the flag that they bore that would drape Mills’ casket for the rest of the journey home, they worried about getting to the gate in time to ensure his safe placement in the airplane.

    Time, it seemed like a half-hour, clicked by. “I was like, hey, we need to be on the tarmac,” Stock recalled. “It just took longer than it should have had to take.”

    The agents said nothing to explain why all three were singled out for additional search and the Marines didn’t protest. “We were just trying to get there as quick as we could,” he added.

    In all, it was a humiliating experience that left them angry.

    “They could probably tell that I was ****ed off,” said Stock, who noted that he’s never encountered that kind of search when going through airport security in uniform.

    “I understand if I was in civilian clothes. But with what we were wearing and what we were doing … ,” he said, noting that “we had the flag with us.”

    A call into TSA’s public affairs office in the D.C. area was not returned as of press time.

    “The Marine Corps is currently cooperating with (TSA) to resolve this matter,” the command said in statement issued May 5 and provided by 2ndLt Lawton King, a 1st Marine Division spokesman at Camp Pendleton.

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  40. Personally, I only carry my black (flat) tactical ninja pen when I’m wearing my contractor cap and multicam shorts.

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  41. Hi James G

    I carry a brass pen with a writing tip that is so strong it can be used as a tactical pen. Does that even count?

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  42. Pingback: Anonymous
  43. Prior to 9/11 I flew quite a bit with a Puma Game Warden lock back knife and a Kubaton keychain. Never a problem. Then one day, after already being going through security with no problems in the wrong concourse, I went through security again at the correct concourse. I put my knife and keys on the tray. The screener announced “Kubaton here!”. My knife was fine, but I was told the Kubaton was a weapon and I could not carry it through. So, I threw it away. I came back through later, after putting a daughter on a plane, checked the trash and it was gone. These were contractors who are now federal employees. Remember they are just remote control robots of the Administration, if that tells you anything. I thought that if a person could take a plane with a kubaton, he really didn’t need it.
    If I deal with a person with a tactical pen, its just a pen, unless he tries to use it for something else. As noted by someone else, everything is a potential weapon, even hands and feet.

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