Published July 11, 2011
Officials are investigating how a cell phone-sized stun gun managed to make it through security and onto a flight that landed at Newark Liberty International Airport.
Authorities would not identify the passenger assigned to the seat where the gun was found, but said it wasn't a law enforcement official. The gun also did not appear to be intended for an attack, an FBI spokesman said.
The stun gun was found on a JetBlue flight from Boson on Friday, a federal law enforcement source said.
According to sources, a Striker 1800 stun gun was found by a cleaning crew inside the back pocket of a seat on Jet Blue flight 1179 after the passengers had disembarked, Fox 5 said.
After the gun was discovered, the workers called the Port Authority Police, JetBlue and the PA said. The Transportation Safety Administration was also notified.
Sources suspect that the stun gun made it through screening at Boston’s Logan Airport.
JetBlue confirmed this information with Fox 5 News and said it was cooperation with the investigations.
Stun guns marketed for personal protection or shaped like cellphones are readily available online. There are also larger sizes, often shaped like pistols, that are increasingly being used by police departments across the country. Some organizations strongly oppose them, fearful they can be abused without clear guidelines.
The device, which usually works by firing wired barbs that stick into a person's body and deliver a powerful and immobilizing shock, are governed by restrictions in many states, including New Jersey and Massachusetts.
Authorities didn't say whether the stun gun found on the JetBlue flight looked like a cellphone or was just the size and weight of one.
Security expert Bruce Schneier said items sometimes slip through security, and it's unlikely the breach was intentional. He said the media's reporting on each item that makes it through security, despite the large percentage of the items that are detected and confiscated on a daily basis, is what alarms the public.
"The big picture is, airports are safe, this is all security theater," he said. "Airport security doesn't have to be perfect to be good enough; perfect is too expensive."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.