Student arrested with boxcutter & scissors.
September 30, 2002 1:33 PM   Subscribe

Student arrested with boxcutter & scissors. But the thing that really boggled my mind was this: "Since February, we've taken more than 25,000 boxcutters from carry-ons and off of passengers. We've taken more than 500 firearms and 215,000 knives," Johnson said." For one thing, I guess I had never realized how much box cutting went on in the US - but the bizarre piece is the guns. A half dozen I can see, but five freakin' hundred? How can that many people - in the post 9/11 world - still be trying to get serious weapony onto airplanes?
posted by MidasMulligan (45 comments total)
 
Ahem. His box cutter blades were hidden in a bottle of lotion? What's up with that?
posted by reality at 1:35 PM on September 30, 2002


i hear Bulgaria has a shortage of edged weapons, so....
posted by clavdivs at 1:37 PM on September 30, 2002


at first i thought this was the airport screeners being overly stupid again, but then i read about the scissors being concealed in a bar of soap and the box cutter blades in the lotion bottle. 1+1+one way internet ticket does indeed seem suspicious. as for 500 freaking guns... some people just don't have any common sense i guess.
posted by sixtwenty3dc at 1:39 PM on September 30, 2002


How can that many people still be trying to get serious weapony onto airplanes?

I'm sure they're all members of well-ordered militias.
posted by goethean at 1:40 PM on September 30, 2002


I'm sure they're all members of well-ordered militias.

~ passes out with laughter ~
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 1:43 PM on September 30, 2002


Midas, there's a shitload of guns in America, I'm not surprised that people carry them on planes as well

Since February, we've taken more than 25,000 boxcutters from carry-ons and off of passengers

You'd also think that these people have read somewhere about those hijackers armed with _boxcutters_ and now boxcutters are not allowed on board, but, hey, nobody reads the papers anymore. or watches the news

((on preview:
goethean, the myth of the second amendment))
posted by matteo at 1:46 PM on September 30, 2002


And, maybe there's well-ordered militias in Bulgaria as well. Who knows?
posted by matteo at 1:47 PM on September 30, 2002


It makes you wonder how many they don't find.
posted by dodgygeezer at 1:50 PM on September 30, 2002


He said he intended to visit a friend in South Carolina before returning to Bulgaria.

God knows quite a few South Carolinians need a shave and a good bit of soapy lathering ... this fellow merely combined the two a bit too literally!
posted by dmd at 1:50 PM on September 30, 2002


Or, maybe people just try to bring guns on board, thinking, "I'll just sneak this on with me, and if anyone trues to hijack the plane... BOOM! I'll be a freaking hero!"

You know, just in case.
posted by sdrifter at 1:51 PM on September 30, 2002


And, maybe there's well-ordered militias in Bulgaria as well. Who knows?

The world-famous Bulgarian BoxCutter Brigade!
posted by dragstroke at 1:52 PM on September 30, 2002


It makes you wonder how many they don't find.

Yeah ... I spend a lot of time in the air - and that thought struck me kinda stongly too. I don't remember the exact number, but in the tests they run to check security, wasn't there something like a 25% failure rate? (Which would mean over 100 guns actually made it onto planes in that same time period).

I wish we could just sub-contract airport security to the Israelis.
posted by MidasMulligan at 1:54 PM on September 30, 2002


Just a note from a possible non-paranoid viewpoint: If you reeeeeally wanted to take your favorite [boxcutter | scissors | knife | shaving razor] with you on a trip, but you know they aren't exactly gonna let you bring it on board...might you not try some little stunt like this? Sure, it's still really stupid of them to try, considering the amount of attention given to luggage these days, but it's not necessarily being done with malicious intentions.

Also, at the risk of being flamed for not reading the article yet (I'm in a hurry and skimmed the posts, then felt compelled to reply), were these concealed items on the *carry-on* or the *checked* luggage? And are people allowed to bring those sharp objects and such on their checked luggage? I would assume so off-hand just because, it's not like passengers have access to the damn luggage compartments...but I have not taken any sharp objects on any recent flights, in either part of my luggage ;)
posted by cyrusdogstar at 1:55 PM on September 30, 2002


First off, I know of a mountain climber who returned from climbing in the Andes post 9/11 and accidentally left an ice axe in his carry on bag. Here's an example of an ice axe. Maybe it's not the most treacherous of weapons, but it's a *lot* scarier than a pair of scissors or the nail clippers they used to seize. He walked through several checkpoints overseas and in the United States with this ice axe and no one found it.
Secondly, for people who need to do any kind of cutting, box cutters are handy because once the blade dulls a little bit, you break off the edge and you've got a nice sharp blade. I don't carry box cutters, but I do use them around the house, for everything from simple cutting of all that junk they wrap cds with to removing corns on my feet.
posted by stevefromsparks at 1:59 PM on September 30, 2002


A half dozen I can see, but five freakin' hundred?

I am on the same page as you, MidasMulligan, and is that not scary enough?
posted by y2karl at 2:05 PM on September 30, 2002


In many parts of the country, a gal never thinks to check for her pepper spray before leaving the house-- but other neighborhoods aren't like that. If "an armed society is a polite society" ... ours must be downright chivalrous. Amazing how many people still run around with sharp objects and worse, as if we were all still sitting out in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by wolves and miles from any organized police department.
posted by sheauga at 2:06 PM on September 30, 2002


cyrusdogstar: yes, you can put these items in the checked luggage. not sure about firearms, but i know knives/box cutters/fingernail clippers can be put in the checked luggage.
posted by escher at 2:10 PM on September 30, 2002


for everything from simple cutting of all that junk they wrap cds with to removing corns on my feet.

this last bit of info I guess the MeFi community could have done without man
posted by matteo at 2:11 PM on September 30, 2002


His box cutter blades were hidden in a bottle of lotion?

I gotta say it...

"Don't try to lotion a lotioner!"

Funny reference here

Anyway... to answer one question, they were in his backpack which he was taking on the plane, I believe.

Its disconcerting to hear about this, but it could just be that the kid was attempting to stupidly "test the system." I can't see him actually trying to hijack a plane by himself with a greasy boxcutter.

The hiding of items, though, sure doesn't help his case. I'm just hoping it was him being a godawful idiot.
posted by tittergrrl at 2:13 PM on September 30, 2002


killer from 'Silence of the Lambs": "PUT THE BLADE IN THE LOTION AND UNTO THE LUGGAGE RACK"
posted by clavdivs at 2:18 PM on September 30, 2002


I'm just hoping it was him being a godawful idiot.

This question certainly points in that direction:

"If I don't apply for an attorney, can we finish all this today?" he asked.
posted by Oddly at 2:19 PM on September 30, 2002


Actually there has never been any sort of evidence to support claims that box-cutters were used to hi-jack the planes on 9/11. Having flown quite a bit since then, it's interesting to note how many things I see on planes than would serve the purpose of 'weapon' far better than a little box-cutter. How about pens? pencils? or that aluminum can you were handed by the stewardness?

Since most reports have said the weapons that were used to hi-jack those planes were already on-board the aircarft, it really won't matter how much screening is being done when it's an INSIDE JOB.
posted by jackspace at 2:26 PM on September 30, 2002


"The laws that forbid the carrying of arms are laws of such a nature. They disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes....Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man."
Thomas Jefferson

Yeah I think that just about covers it.
posted by Beholder at 2:33 PM on September 30, 2002


I'm just hoping it was him being a godawful idiot.

per the Dallas Mourning News His reply to authorities, he packaged them this way from damaging anything else in his backpack. He also was the last passenger to pass through the security screening for this flight.
posted by thomcatspike at 2:34 PM on September 30, 2002


Try and see through the media hype on this, folks. As I understand it, he had the scissors embedded in a bar of soap and the boxcutters in a box that also contained a bottle of lotion. See here. His story was that he didn't want sharp objects bouncing around in his luggage, possibly cutting up his clothes.

I think he's pretty stupid, but I doubt that he had bad intentions. So he put a bar of soap over the end of his scissors, big deal. The original linked article makes it sound like he completely concealed the scissors in a big bar of soap and had blades in the lotion bottle. Gimme a break.
posted by BirdD0g at 2:41 PM on September 30, 2002


cyrusdogstar and escher: yes you can put firearms in checked luggage.

continental's luggage policy re: sporting goods
posted by goddam at 2:43 PM on September 30, 2002


Why are all the guns surprising? An atomsphere of paranoia breeds paranoia. If there is a terrorist threat then some will think its in the best interest to arm themselves as they see fit to fight it. What ever happened to the guy they caught at O'Hare with much more than this? I noticed there really wasn't much said about him in the media. I'm assuming that the only story was paranoia and self-arming, which this administration has an interest in protecting.
posted by skallas at 2:49 PM on September 30, 2002


What BirdD0g said.
posted by mathis23 at 3:00 PM on September 30, 2002


i've moved 12 times in the past 29 years and have probably carried an exacto knife with me on the plane ride to my new home 99% of those times. it's easy to finish packing, stick the knife in my back pocket or my backpack say, and then when you hop out on the other end you are ready to start cutting open boxes. it was one of 3 or 4 things that were a must-have when moving - tape, sharpie, exacto knife and a toothbrush were about it. i actually get why so many people are travelling with boxcutters. though hiding it in a bottle of lotion seems a wee bit suspicious...
posted by henriettachicken at 3:05 PM on September 30, 2002


Probably protection...
posted by punkrockrat at 3:33 PM on September 30, 2002


I am on the same page as you, MidasMulligan, and is that not scary enough?

Hell Y2K, we're almost always on the same page. It's just that the pages are usually in different books :).
posted by MidasMulligan at 3:46 PM on September 30, 2002


How can that many people - in the post 9/11 world - still be trying to get serious weapony onto airplanes?

Well, by definition about 50% of the population are of below-average intelligence.

A half dozen I can see, but five freakin' hundred?

And a significant percentage are just f*cking stupid.
posted by moonbiter at 3:53 PM on September 30, 2002


s if we were all still sitting out in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by wolves and miles from any organized police department.

I do live miles from any organized police department: I live in Seattle.

Well, all right, that's not technically true, I live well outside the city limits. I do work in town, though, and frankly, the straight line was just too damn attractive.
posted by kindall at 3:57 PM on September 30, 2002


Only 500 guns? I would have thought more. Some people like to carry their guns around with them, usually for reasons that don't seem very well thought out when they forget to take them out of their favorite gym bag and pack for a trip.
posted by dglynn at 4:02 PM on September 30, 2002


I wish we could just sub-contract airport security to the Israelis.

There's a Godwin corollary in their somewhere. Subcontracting anything to the Israelis would pretty much guarantee MORE terrorism, not less. They're catnip to militants.
posted by donkeyschlong at 4:26 PM on September 30, 2002


You must be referring to Barry Switzer, dglynn.
posted by thomcatspike at 4:36 PM on September 30, 2002


this story about the student trying to smuggle knives and scissors in soap is rediculous. Doesn't everyone know that x-rays penetrate plastic etc and can see the metal objects in the bag? He wanted to get caught. Is that much of a stretch? He was let go, hmm...? Maybe he is really just advertising for how effective the screening of luggage is now in airports or something. I feel safer, don't you? So rediculous. As for the other weaponry totally american.
posted by proof_nc at 4:55 PM on September 30, 2002


/shrug I don't see 500 as very big.

Many people fly in the United States. I couldn't find the precise number so far in 2002, but I was able to find this projection from the faa. Basically, it suggests that around 700 - 800 million people fly a year in the U.S. on large carriers. Being quite conservative and doubling 500 fire arms to 1000 a year and using the 700 million estimate we still only get .00000143 of the total. About a little over 1 person bringing on a gun out of every 1,000,000 passengers.

I don't like the fact that the number is above zero, but how low can one expect this number to get.
posted by rudyfink at 5:00 PM on September 30, 2002


How can that many people - in the post 9/11 world - still be trying to get serious weapony onto airplanes?

Some by accident, perhaps - a friend of mine, an avowed sport shooter, accidentally left a loaded magazine in his carry-on bag, and then tried to fly out of Reagan National Airport in December of 2001.

No one stopped him. He discovered the magazine in his bag while on the jetway, turned around, and surrendered it to security.

The story gets better, but it's not mine to tell.

His box cutter blades were hidden in a bottle of lotion? What's up with that?

Dude, there's GOTTA be a website for that fetish.
posted by mikewas at 5:23 PM on September 30, 2002


Why put it in the lotion when you're intending to use it to open boxes? Because you don't want the dumbass security clowns taking it off you, along with your pocketknife and the teeny-tiny little nail cleaning thing that attaches to your nail clippers. (Of course, it would be smarter just to buy a new one at the far end, but our protagonist here is about as smart as an airport security guard.)

By the way, you can keep your car keys. Your sharp, two-inches long, car keys.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 5:45 PM on September 30, 2002


I think they should ban compact discs on airplanes. When broken in half, they are really really sharp.
posted by mfli at 7:27 PM on September 30, 2002


matteo: Regarding the Brady myth of the meaning of well-regulated. Here's a hint: it doesn't mean state-controlled or supervised.
posted by Ayn Marx at 7:32 PM on September 30, 2002


a little over 1 person bringing on a gun out of every 1,000,000 passengers

Do those sums again with the figures for knives and boxcutters and the situation is a little more grim. At least the passengers will be able to defend themselves against hijackers with CDs broken in half.
posted by dg at 8:09 PM on September 30, 2002


Sure, it's still really stupid of them to try, considering the amount of attention given to luggage these days, but it's not necessarily being done with malicious intentions.

Man, I'd love to try that freakin' defense when my brown ass takes a gun on a plane. You guys got my back?
posted by anildash at 9:29 PM on September 30, 2002


From my expericece working grocery and my sweeties current job working grocery it is almost impossible to not find a boxcutter on your person when you leave work. They are kind of like stupid bic pens that you toss into your pocket. The hysteria around boxcutters is a bit annoying and I wonder if my fountain pens would be banned if there was an unconfirmed rumor that they were used to commit crimes on airplanes. The high number of boxcutters found seems quite reasonable given how many people work in retail and everyone I know who works in retial has reached into their pocket to find a forgotten boxcutter.

Could we get a fact-checker in on this story? MSNBC is reporting that the box cutters were in the lotion while CNN is reporting that they were in a box with a bottle of lotion. As far as I can tell the only mistake this guy made was not checking his luggage. However this is about what I did before 9-11 when I traveled light with one bag. Perhaps a better way to deal with the problem would be to have a vending machine for pre-stamped padded envelopes for those forgotten items before security.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:58 AM on October 1, 2002


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