Armed and cuddly

December 17th, 2009 by – Security screeners at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport late last month discovered a 9mm handgun hidden inside a hollowed-out teddy bear and stuffed into a passenger’s suitcase.

The gun was was headed for the cargo hold and not the cabin of the plane.

The passenger was pulled off his international flight and arrested on an export violation of failing to declare the gun when he checked in.

The case highlights a problem Transportation Security Administration screeners face every day.

In the last year, TSA screeners at DFW Airport have discovered more than 90 guns hidden in checked luggage and carry-on bags.

In most cases, the agency does not believe the passengers were trying to harm anyone on planes.

Some travelers simply forget they have weapons in their bag when they head for the airport.

Guns hidden in bags constantly test the screeners, who look at about 30,000 pieces of luggage every day.

In a room underneath the airport, specially trained technicians check images of bags as they pass through a high-tech scanner that looks for weapons and explosives.

The things they see can be mind boggling.

“We’ve seen kitchen sinks come through. We’ve seen chainsaws,” said Paul Forgash, DFW’s assistant federal security director. “We see so many things in so many crazy ways that it’s really not that shocking anymore these days.”

Even wheelchairs get more scrutiny because terrorists in Iraq have recruited people in wheelchairs for suicide bombings.

Last month, screeners in Milwaukee found two handguns hidden under the cushion of a man’s wheelchair.

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