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Vanessa Gibbs is mad. The 17-year-old pregnant teen wasn't permitted to board her plane in Norfolk, Va. last week after TSA agents spotted her unique purse.
She was carrying a Western-style clutch adorned with a small, hollow pistol about 4 or 5 inches long. Though she had flown with the gun purse before, airport security decided that it either had to be checked or tossed.
When she pushed for answers, the agents allegedly told her that carrying the purse was a "federal offense because it's in the shape of a gun."
For a peek at the gun purse at issue, take a look at the following video:
If you think carrying a purse with a gun design is protected by the First Amendment, you'd have a somewhat decent argument. But if you think the above gun is an obvious fake and thus should be permitted on planes, you'd probably lose in court.
TSA regulations not only ban real guns, they ban realistic replicas of guns (and other weapons). TSA agents told Vanessa Gibbs that her gun purse violated this prohibition, reports WJXT-TV.
Bright pink, clear plastic guns are likely allowed on planes. But metal-colored, detailed guns are not. Some people would look at the gun purse and know it's too small to be real. But others? Perhaps not.
Replica weapons are banned from planes because they cause people to overreact. Those people then incite a panic, putting everyone's safety at risk. Airline safety will almost always trump free speech.
So do yourself a favor and don't carry a gun purse while flying. Or anything else that depicts a weapon.