A sock monkey dressed as a cowboy made his flight to Seattle from St. Louis last week, but his tiny sidearm had to stay behind.
Phyllis McDill May, who sews the dolls for gifts and for sale, said Friday that it seemed extreme for a Transportation Security Administration agent here to confiscate a miniature toy revolver that was so obviously not a real firearm.
â€śShe was doing her job and I understand that,â€ť May said. â€śBut I thought sheâ€™d take it out and look at it and see itâ€™s a toy and give it back.â€ť
The TSAâ€™s response: â€śUnder longstanding aircraft security policy, and out of an abundance of caution, realistic replicas of firearms are prohibited in carry-on bags.â€ť
May, 57, who lives in suburban Seattle, thinks the monkeyâ€™s gun was not that realistic. It is about two inches long and weighs less than an ounce, she explained. Its trigger and hammer move, but the barrel is solid.
Still, there is a real gun in the same size range. The smallest revolver in the world is the SwissMiniGun, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Itâ€™s 2.2 inches long, 1 centimeter wide and weighs less than an ounce â€” and a bullet fired from it reportedly can hit a target roughly 525 feet away.
The novelty weapon costs from $5,200 and $48,000, depending on its finish. And itâ€™s illegal to own in the U.S., according to the Swiss manufacturerâ€™s website.
The play gun for the sock monkey, by contrast, cost $2.50 at an online doll-supply store, May said.
She said the encounter Dec. 3 happened as she and her husband passed through security at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport, on their way home after visiting family in the Metro East area for Thanksgiving.
She carried a bag with sewing supplies and the beginnings of a monkey she calls Rooster Monkburn, a play on the name Rooster Cogburn, a character played by John Wayne in the 1969 movie â€śTrue Grit.â€ť
Rooster wore blue jeans. May planned to finish his shirt and vest during the plane ride.
The TSA agent found the toy revolver in a pocket of a bag, and at one point threatened to call police, May said. The agent told her that if the barrel were pressed against her neck, she wouldnâ€™t know whether it was real or fake.
â€śI would know itâ€™s a toy,â€ť May said. â€śWeâ€™re not James Bond here.â€ť
Since returning home, May has finished sewing Rooster, and replaced his pistol.
May plans to fly back to St. Louis on Tuesday to celebrate Christmas with family in the Oâ€™Fallon-Fairview Heights area, where she grew up. Sheâ€™ll leave the gun at home, she said. Or at least put it in checked luggage.