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TSA starts Instagram account to show confiscated weapons

12:31 PM, Jul 5, 2013   |    comments
Photo: TSA Instagram.
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    It's the agency's latest move to draw attention to the number of menacing weapons it says fliers are trying to bring on airplanes. The social media effort comes as the TSA says it's confiscating more firearms at airport security checkpoints than at any time in recent years.

    Among the photos to make it onto the tsablogteam's Instragram account: a multitude of guns, knives, fireworks, grenades and a stun gun camouflaged as a pack of cigarettes.

    Though the marriage of potentially dangerous weapons confiscated at U.S. airports and the popular image-sharing site may be jarring to some, the TSA has used social media for years to highlight its battle against carry-on contraband.

    The TSA started a blog in 2008 and has a Twitter account under the @TSABlogTeam handle, which has more than 30,000 followers.

    As for its Instagram account, the agency launched that account on June 27. It already had nearly 32,000 followers as of noon ET on Friday (July 5).

    The site also includes commentary from the TSA's social media team.

    "The perfect #knife to bring to a #gunfight was discovered in a carry-on bag at #Cleveland #Hopkins #airport," says about a photo showing a confiscated knife disguised as a gun.

    "Unfortunately these sorts of occurrences are all too frequent which is why we talk about these finds," the TSA blogger Bob Burns writes on the agency's blog.

    Burns says that posting photos of confiscated items allows the agency "to share the things that our officers are finding, but at the same time, each time we find a dangerous item, the throughput is slowed down and a passenger that likely had no ill intent ends up with a citation or in some cases is even arrested. The passenger can face a penalty as high as $7,500.00. This is a friendly reminder to please leave these items at home."

    The TSA tells ABC News that its social media is just one of "a variety of ways" that the agency uses "to engage with the traveling public in order to provide timely information that assists them in traveling safely."

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    By Ben Mutzabaugh, USA Today

    Gannett / USA Today

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