TSA Forces Assault Rifle-Bearing Soldier to Relinquish Nail Clippers

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Indiana Army National Guard at Indianapolis Airport
Army National Guard at Indianapolis Airport © The U.S. Army

Just another in a long line of TSA outrages … BoingBoing points us to this unintentionally hilarious account from a U.S. soldier returning home from Afghanistan:

… all of us were carrying actual assault rifles, and some of us were also carrying pistols.

So we’re in line, going through one at a time. One of our Soldiers had his Gerber multi-tool. TSA confiscated it. Kind of ridiculous, but it gets better. A few minutes later, a guy empties his pockets and has a pair of nail clippers. Nail clippers. TSA informs the Soldier that they’re going to confiscate his nail clippers. The conversation went something like this:

TSA Guy: You can’t take those on the plane.

Soldier: What? I’ve had them since we left country.

TSA Guy: You’re not suppose to have them.

Soldier: Why?

TSA Guy: They can be used as a weapon.

Soldier: [touches butt stock of the rifle] But this actually is a weapon. And I’m allowed to take it on.

TSA Guy: Yeah but you can’t use it to take over the plane. You don’t have bullets.

Soldier: And I can take over the plane with nail clippers?

TSA Guy: [awkward silence]

Me: Dude, just give him your damn nail clippers so we can get the f**k out of here. I’ll buy you a new set.

Soldier: [hands nail clippers to TSA guy, makes it through security]

How can the TSA drones not see how ridiculous their policies are? How?!?

About The Author

Mike Richard
Founding Editor

Mike Richard has traveled the world extensively since 2008. He's camped in the Jordanian desert with Bedouins, tracked African wild dogs in South Africa, and survived a near-miss great white shark attack in Mexico. He loves the great outdoors, good bourbon, and he (usually) calls Massachusetts home. He also enjoys speaking in the third person.

20 Responses

  1. Scott

    You read this anecdote, and you want to see what you want to see so badly that you don’t see the other problems with it? Seriously? You just beleive it at face value?

    One word for the story: Bullshit.

    One word for the people who just believe because their emotions tell them they should: Simpleton.

    Agree or not, when you read an account like this, you HAVE to ask questions. I’m amazed at the lack of curiosity.

    Reply
  2. Karl

    Let me relate an exchange I’ve had, regarding my M16 (dating myself here) and its lack of bullets.
    Me: This rifle does not have bullets, is it an effective weapon?
    Subject: No
    Me: May I hit you with it?
    Subject: No
    Me: Why, you just said its not an effective weapon? Or is it now effective when I’m hitting you with it?

    My point being, things do not have to be sharp or explodey to be weapons. Given the choice between an unloaded M16 variant, or a pair of nail clippers, I’d beat someone with the M16 all day.

    Reply
  3. Anonymous

    I’m not sure if this is satire or not, but this actually happened to me during a trip with the national guard 14 years ago. Leaving the details out, we passed the A1’s to a soldier standing next to the metal detector, walked through, let them wand us down (rank, belts, mine blast plate in boots), they okayed us, we got our rifles back. Let time I checked, I always kept spare rounds… They didn’t bother passing the want over my lower pockets.

    I’ll stay anonymous on this one. Ironically, I spport the TSA effort at this time.

    Reply
  4. Karl

    @Scott
    Do you actually have information that debunks this story? Confirmation that it never happened? Or do you want so badly to believe in the common sense of an organization that has taken away my pencil sharpeners (the razor on them is obviously a deadly weapon) that you dismiss the story.

    I have not stated my opinion on the article, nor have I assaulted your opinions. I merely ask for evidence support your claim, rather than the thus far baseless denial in your previous post.

    Reply
  5. K

    For all those who believe this story:
    http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/prohibited/permitted-prohibited-items.shtm#6

    You aren’t allowed to carry arms with you on board commercial flights (soldiers and civilians alike). You need to check them in.

    One post does talk about a similar situation 14 years ago, I am not going to be skeptical about his comment, because I don’t know what the rules were 14 years ago.

    Rather than mock the TSA with fabricated stories, maybe we should cooperate with them right now, because they are doing this to ensure our security. If you do have an alternate non-intrusive and non-harmful (i.e. don’t mention X-Rays with high intensity beams) method of detecting what the TSA are trying to detect using a pat-down, feel free to take your idea to the top and help enforce it.

    Reply
  6. karl

    @K
    This is not entirely accurate. You are not allowed to be a soldier, walk up to a plane with your weapon, and board. However, the story changes when you are on a civilian charter flight, chartered by your unit.

    Reply
  7. K

    @Karl
    “However, the story changes when you are on a civilian charter flight, chartered by your unit.”
    @Karl
    “However, the story changes when you are on a civilian charter flight, chartered by your unit.”
    This means that there aren’t any civilians on the flight right? – leaving the obvious cases out (like the soldier’s family perhaps). The point that I was trying to make is that no one is allowed to get past the TSA gates (the ones that we normally walk through) with arms/weapons. I think the whole security procedure is different for flights chartered by a military unit – they definitely don’t go through the normal gates. If you care to disagree let me know what happens in this case – a soldier can get through the TSA gates with a gun, as soon as they are in the terminal, he can pass it onto a civilian. Military charted flights don’t usually pull up at the normal terminals. They leave from a separate hangar/terminal if I am not wrong.

    Reply
  8. Brian

    Sounds bo-o-o-o-ogus to me. The sole source of this story is Erick Erickson’s second hand reprinting of one person’s account of an alleged incident that has not been reported anywhere else. It seems nobody has tried to confirm it by interviewing airport staff and other soldiers. Until then, I must doubt this happened. Where are your critical-thinking skills, America?

    Reply
  9. Paul

    Incredible to think that TSA is afraid that our US military personnel would be interested in taking over a plane that is returning them to their families after they have put their lives on the line for the country that allows the airline companies to operate their businesses and make incredible profits.

    Granted the agents are only puppets on strings and nothing more. Most of them appear as individuals that could not get career job if they tried. If they could I would imagine that most would love to have a job that was interesting and offered them a sense of self worth.

    Reply
  10. BillForster

    I am a former TSA screener who currently publishes an ANTI-TSA webcomic. I have no love for the TSA.

    However, no soldier was allowed trough a TSA checkpoint with an assault rifle AND nail clippers are in fact allowed by the TSA.

    If you are against the TSA, making up unbelievable stories about them is not going to help your cause.

    Reply
  11. Getting a camera through customs?

    […] please. Those knives couldn't cut through orange juice. And this is my personal favourite story: Rifle bearing soldiers had to relinquish nail clippers __________________ Jon If you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there. […]

    Reply

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