A Transportation Security Administration agent in St. Louis confiscated a small toy gun from a sock monkey last week because she said someone may not “know if it was real or not.”
Phyllis May of Redmond, Wash., has a small business making and selling sock monkeys. She had a few of the monkeys and sewing supplies stored in her carry-on bag when she and her husband were traveling from St. Louis to Seattle, according to St. Louis TV station King5 News.
The monkey, “Rooster Monkburn” – fashioned after John Wayne’s character, “Rooster Cogburn,” in the film “True Grit” – had his own pistol in the bag.
Emerging from the security screening, May noticed the bag was missing.
“And the [TSA agent] held it up and said ‘Whose is this?’” she told King5. “I realized oh, my God this is my bag.”
The TSA agent searched the bag and found the two-inch-long toy gun.
“She said ‘This is a gun,’” May said. “I said, ‘No, it’s not a gun it’s a prop for my monkey.’ She said, ‘If I held it up to your neck, you wouldn’t know if it was real or not,’ and I said, ‘Really?’”
The monkey’s gun was confiscated, and the TSA agent told May she was supposed to call the police.
“I said, ‘Well go ahead,’” May told King5. “And I said, ‘Really? You’re kidding me right?’ And she said, ‘No it looks like a gun.’ She took my monkey’s gun.”
“Rooster Monkburn has been disarmed, so I’m sure everyone on the plane was safe,” she added. “I understand she was doing her job, but at some point, doesn’t common sense prevail?”
King5 reported that “in the end, the agent did not call police, and May did get her other sewing supplies back.”
On Monday, the TSA issued a statement to King5, saying:
“TSA officers are dedicated to keeping the nation’s transportation security systems safe and secure for the traveling public. Under longstanding aircraft security policy, and out of an abundance of caution, realistic replicas of firearms are prohibited in carry-on bags.”
May said the incident left her “appalled and shocked and embarrassed all at the same time.”