A strange thing hap­pened to me at Newark Air­port , of all places this morn­ing.  I was up ear­ly because I had to be on a flight to Los Ange­les.  As I nor­mal­ly do when I go through Secu­ri­ty I took off my shoes, jack­et, belt, etc.  I put my back­pack though the X‑ray machine, and I got flagged.  I nev­er get flagged.  I thought it might have been my “car­ry on” EDC Altoids kit I had thrown in the bag the evening before.  I tried to tell the rep­re­sen­ta­tive that was going through my bag that I thought that is what it was.   He gave me a lit­tle atti­tude.  I remained cor­dial.  The TSA agent con­tin­ued to pull stuff out of my bag, books, lap­top cords & cables, etc…  And then he pulled it out.  A box of 50 rounds of 9mm Blaz­er ammu­ni­tion.  I imme­di­ate­ly had the ‘oh shit’ look on my face.  I’m at the air­port.  Not just any air­port mind you.  Newark Air­port, one of the busiest air­ports in the coun­try.  “This is going to get bad real fast,” I thought to myself.   The TSA Agent called over two oth­er agents.  They pulled the bul­lets out of the box for every­one around to see.  Embar­rass­ing to say the least.  All I could think was that peo­ple around me going buy star­ing are look­ing at me as a would be ter­ror­ist sus­pect.  Ugh.  The TSA man­ag­er came over.  He was wear­ing a suit.  Very pro­fes­sion­al, and looked and act­ed like a retired LEO.  He asked me a cou­ple of sim­ple ques­tions, “Why did I have them? Where they Hol­low Point? Etc…“ I explained that I had been tar­get shoot­ing the week before, and sim­ply for­got to take them out, and that they were FMJ and not self defense rounds.    He then explained to me that the pro­ce­dure was that he had to report it to the Port Author­i­ty Police, and that they had to come to inter­view me.  He was very cor­dial and pro­fes­sion­al.  I was pleas­ant­ly sur­prised.

I sat in a chair wait­ing for sev­er­al min­utes, watch­ing every­one look at my box of bul­lets and then look­ing at me.  I was star­ing at my box of bul­lets shak­ing my head say­ing to myself, “Stu­pid mis­take.”  An hon­est mis­take as well.

The Port Author­i­ty Offi­cers showed up.  They too were very nice and very pro­fes­sion­al.  The first offi­cer asked if they were for a reg­is­tered legal gun.  I explained that it was and that I use them in a Spring­field XDm.  He then explained he had to do a crim­i­nal back­ground check on me to deter­mine whether or not there were any out­stand­ing war­rants, was on a no fly list, or if they were even going to allow me to go on with my trip.  I said that that was fine and to do what­ev­er they need­ed to do to ver­i­fy my back­ground and what­ev­er he need­ed, and that I would be coop­er­a­tive.  He asked me for my ID, SSN, and some oth­er infor­ma­tion.  He walked off and start­ed push­ing the but­tons on his mobile phone start­ing the process.  The oth­er offi­cer was play­ing “good cop” with me.  Ask­ing me where I was from, who I go shoot­ing with, etc.  He was get­ting infor­ma­tion out of me they could use if they had to.  I know the process.  Much of my fam­i­ly is in law enforce­ment.  Many of my friends have been state, local, and fed­er­al LEOs.  I played along.  I extract­ed some infor­ma­tion from him as well.  He has been “on the job” for two years, he enjoys it, there are many box­es of rounds, mag­a­zines, and oth­er gun relat­ed prod­uct that comes through the X‑ray machine all the time.  Most of the “to be con­fis­cat­ed” prod­ucts come through in the morn­ing, and rarely in the after­noon or evening.  I seemed to be the first catch of the day.  The first offi­cer came back over and asked me if I was local or state LEO.  I have been asked that by a LEO in the past when stopped for speed­ing.  I get that from time to time.  I always have, ever since my ear­ly 20’s.  I should have fin­ished ROTC, served in the Army, and become an MP that was in my plan ear­li­er in my live.  It is some­thing I regret not doing.  I should have con­tin­ued on to the FBI or some oth­er Fed­er­al agency the way I had want­ed to.  That is anoth­er sto­ry for anoth­er time, how­ev­er.

The back­ground check came back neg­a­tive, and every­thing was fine, as I knew it would be.  The first PAO said that I could go on with my trip, took my phone num­bers, told me they were con­fis­cat­ing my box of 9mm rounds.  I said it was a small loss, apol­o­gized for incon­ve­nienc­ing them, thanked them for being so pro­fes­sion­al, and was on my way.

This was much less painful and much more pro­fes­sion­al­ly han­dled than I had antic­i­pat­ed.  I had visions of being tak­en into the inter­ro­ga­tion room, being inter­ro­gat­ed for two hours, miss­ing my flight, being black list­ed (and black­list­ed remains to be seen going for­ward).

The moral of the sto­ry, the sys­tem worked for me.  It worked in favor of law enforce­ment, the state of NJ, and our coun­try.   All in all, a slight­ly scary expe­ri­ence for me.  In the end, hap­py it hap­pened.  I learned a bit more about TSA pol­i­cy and pro­ce­dure.  I learned that the Port Author­i­ty Police are well trained for such inci­dents, and are hap­py to do their jobs.

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