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Airport screeners find loaded gun in teddy bear

From Patty Davis and Beth Lewandowski
CNN


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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Screeners at a passenger checkpoint at the Orlando International Airport last Friday found a loaded handgun hidden inside a stuffed teddy bear belonging to a 10-year-old boy, the Transportation Security Administration has told CNN.

The boy was part of a family of five that had been on vacation in Orlando and was returning home to Ohio, the TSA said.

"The family reported it had been given to the child at a hotel in Orlando two days earlier," TSA spokesman Robert Johnson said.

The .22-caliber Derringer, according to another TSA official, was "artfully hidden" inside the bear.

Screeners became suspicious after the teddy bear was x-rayed, and a small hole was found on the bottom of the stuffed toy, the official said.

Johnson said the FBI is examining who gave the child the bear and why.

The family was questioned and sent on their way, he said.

The TSA said the gun had been reported stolen in 1996 in Barstow, California, after a residential burglary.

"We are criticized a lot for screening grannies and babies: 'Why are they checking this? My two-year old isn't a terrorist.' This underscores the need to screen everyone and everything," said Johnson.

"It's lucky that we kept it off the flight," he added, noting it could have fired mid-flight while the child was playing with the stuffed animal.

Johnson stressed passengers should never accept anything from a stranger and take it on a flight.

Federal screeners have made two other catches recently. In Hartford, Connecticut, screeners stopped a man who had slipped a knife down the back of a six-year-old child's shirt to try to slip it past security, Johnson said.

Also at that airport, screeners stopped a 67-year-old man who had hollowed out his prosthetic leg to conceal a nine-inch knife in a scabbard.

Both were arrested, Johnson said.

"These sorts of things make the point that we need to screen everything," he said. "We can't allow terrorists any opportunity."


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