The TSA may have shot itself in the foot once again. Vanessa Gibbs, 17, was recently stopped at a Virginia airport by a Transportation Security Administration official because her purse was decorated with a gun motif. TSA agents flagged the handbag as a security risk, and the resulting delay caused Gibbs, who is pregnant, to miss her flight from Norfolk, Va. to her home in Jacksonville, Fla. Instead, Gibbs was diverted to Orlando, sending her waiting mother into a panic. Here's what you should know:
What does this purse look like?
On the front of the small brown bag is a miniature revolver dotted by studs. "It's my style, it's camouflage," Gibbs told reporters. The decorative pistol is just a few inches long, isn't hollow, and, of course, is not a real gun. "I carried this from Jacksonville to Norfolk, and I've carried it from Norfolk to Jacksonville. Never once has anyone said anything about it until now," said the pregnant teenager. "It's a purse, not a weapon."
Did TSA agents think it was a real gun?
Apparently, they believed it might have been a "replica weapon." The TSA first flagged the purse as a potential "security risk," but after they concluded that the gun was "pure decoration," officials told Gibbs to "check her bag or turn it over," says Terri Pous at TIME. It's unclear whether Gibbs was allowed to take her purse with her on the flight to Orlando. The TSA is standing by its decision, and says that replicas have been banned from airplanes since 2002.
Are people angry with the TSA?
You bet. "I was so upset," said mother Tami Gibbs. "I was on the phone all the way to Orlando trying to figure out what was going on with her. It was terrifying." It's hard to believe this really happened, says Robert Paul Reyes at The SOP. "The only thing terrifying about Vanessa's purse is its gaudy design." But the fashion police are one thing. The TSA, on the other hand, "had no right to harass her."