On December 3, 2013, Phyllis May of Redmond Washington was traveling from St. Louis to Seattle when a TSA agent seized the toy gun from the sock monkey she was carrying.
“Rooster Monkburn”, a cowboy sock monkey named after John Wayne’s character, “Rooster Cogburn” from the movie “True Grit,” was disarmed while attempting to go through security.
May stated she was “appalled and shocked and embarrassed all at the same time.”
May was traveling with her husband through the security checkpoint when she realized one of her bags was missing.
The TSA agent held up the missing bag and asked, ‘whose is this?’” she said. “I realized oh, my God this is my bag.”
The TSA agent searched the bag and discovered the gun.
“She said ‘this is a gun,’” said May. “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?’” said May.
May was then told the TSA agent would confiscate the gun and had to notify law enforcement.
“I said well go ahead,” said May. “And I said really? You’re kidding me right, and she said no it looks like a gun.”
“She took my monkey’s gun,” said May, who has retained her sense of humor.
“Rooster Monkburn has been disarmed so I’m sure everyone on the plane was safe,” she said. “I understand she was doing her job but at some point doesn’t common sense prevail?”
Eventually, the agent returned the gun to May and did not call the police.
May owns a business selling sock monkeys and was traveling with several of her creations.
In a statement issued by the TSA, the TSA defended the agent’s actions stating,
"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."
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