When it comes to John Wayne Airport, thankfully, not much contraband is found on passengers by your friendly Transportation Security Administration helpers. In 2011, the TSA at John Wayne confiscated 111 items that they deemed "extremely dangerous," according to Nico Melendez, the TSA Spokesman for California, Arizona, and Hawaii. In 2012, only 42 dangerous items were taken. These items are obviously not your travel lube that's over 3 oz., but things like firearms, flammables, explosives, fireworks, and sharp objects. This is not bad considering that four guns a day are confiscated in airports across the U.S.
In a small airport like John Wayne, these items are just not very common.
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Melendez said that most people bring dangerous items without even thinking about it. The TSA there is usually confiscating items like pocketknives and wine bottle openers that have the tiny foil-cutting knife.
However, even John Wayne gets its share of seriously dangerous items on occasion. Just last week, two firearms, a handgun and a revolver, were confiscated at a checkpoint. Melendez said that usually these people are not intending to harm anyone--they just forget they have the gun on them. The strangest item Melendez heard about being taken was a loaded chainsaw.
Although it's good that John Wayne's numbers are relatively low, Melendez said everything detracts from finding the real threats. The TSA should be able to focus on finding the items with bad intentions, not your pairing knife.
The TSA in California has faced some interesting challenges with this recently at Oakland International Airport. A checkpoint was shutdown when a man came through with a watch that looked like a bomb. It turned out to be a piece of artwork owned by a 49-year-old Rancho Palos Verdes teacher. He was arrested at the airport and had to post $150,000 for bail.
The man felt the TSA had been hypervigilant, but Melendez said they have to be that cautious. "The bad guys are patient," he said, "and you never know when they're probing to see what they can get away with."
Luckily, very few explosives are found at John Wayne.
Melendez, however couldn't comment on the amount of drugs that are confiscated at the airport because they are immediately handed over to the police. As of now, our most notable airport confiscation was of Snoop Dogg's 21-inch baton in 2006. Either we're on very good behavior or the TSA is really bad at sniffing out pot.