Teen stopped by TSA for gun-themed purse

Published On: Dec 02 2011 10:27:21 AM EST
Updated On: Dec 05 2011 07:26:43 AM EST

A Jacksonville teen may want to rethink her wardrobe accessories after she said she was prevented from boarding a flight because of her purse design.

Vanessa Gibbs, 17, said officials with the Transportation Security Administration at Norfolk International Airport stopped her during a security screening because they said her handbag -- which has the shape of a gun designed on it -- was as a security risk, WJXT-TV reported.

According to the TV station, Gibbs said she had no problem going through TSA screening at Jacksonville International Airport but was stopped as she was headed home from a holiday trip in Virginia.

"It's my style. It's camouflage. It has an old western gun on it," Gibbs told the TV station. "She was like, 'This is a federal offense because it's in the shape of a gun.' I'm like, 'But it's a design on a purse. How is it a federal offense?'"

Gibbs said after agents figured out the gun was a fake, she was directed to check the bag or turn it over.

However, because of the TSA delay, the teen said she missed her flight, and had to fly to Orlando instead, worrying her mother, who was waiting in Jacksonville.

"Oh, it's terrifying. I was so upset," Tami Gibbs, the teen's mom, told WJXT-TV. "I was on the phone all the way to Orlando trying to figure out what was going on with her. It was terrifying. I don't ever want to go through it again."

What upsets Gibbs the most is that she said she has taken the purse on planes before and that no one else has mistaken the tiny gun design as a real weapon.

However, TSA officials stressed that the gun purse could be considered a replica weapon, which have been prohibited since 2002.

A TSA official at the airport in Jacksonville told the TV station that passengers should check the prohibited items list, which can be found online or at the airport, before going through security.

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