The Shell Game: Taking Spent Rounds Through Airport Security

_by David E. Petzal

_When I checked in for the flight home from New Zealand, their security people put my duffel bag through a fluoroscope just as the TSA does here, and saw what appeared to be a loose round floating around inside. The nice lady asked if I would mind taking my stuff out (as though I had a choice) and I said, "Not at all." I had no intention of spending eternity on the floor of the Pacific alongside Amelia Earhart.

So we took everything out and no loose round. I was not surprised, since I had accounted for all my ammo before I packed, but what was that on the fluoroscope? Finally we figured it out. There were three spent shells in my ammo box, one of them cocked at an angle, and through some kind of optical illusion, it looked like it was off by itself. So, no more empty shells are making the trip home.

A colleague of mine was caught by the TSA with a real loose round a few years ago and they let him on the flight, but a couple of weeks later he got a nasty letter from the Agency along with a $250 fine. I'm also certain that he got himself on the TSA's s**t list, which means when they are not busy yanking the adult diapers off wheelchair-bound granny ladies, groping 6-year-old kids, or ignoring Nigerian immigrants with bogus IDs and boarding passes, they will give him extra trouble.

Remember: When flying, watch your brass--and your ass.