A Texas Tech University student was recently flagged by the TSA after throwing up her school’s “handgun” salute to another individual sporting the school on a hoodie, according to Fox News.
Diana Durkin took a semester off to be with her family following Hurricane Harvey and was finally planning to return to her beloved school on Jan. 6. However, while in line for security at a Houston airport, she spotted a man wearing a Texas Tech hoodie. Her school spirit and reflexes caused her to reveal a handgun salute to the school’s mascot, the Masked Rider.
However, the man did not seem to catch on as he gave her a confused look. Moments later, she was taken aside for questioning by the TSA. “‘What are you doing? You can’t do that in an airport,'” Durkin recalled the agent telling her, according to BuzzFeed News.
The 19-year-old student told Buzzfeed that the school’s fans will often greet each other with a finger gun and “Wreck ’em,” Texas Tech’s slogan.
“I love Texas Tech. I love the people, I love the school. Anytime I see someone I get really excited,” Durkin told the outlet, saying they gave her a full pat down and screening, which Durkin said left her nearly in tears.
The teenager posted on Twitter in a panic to explain the incident.
“In the airport security line and I see someone wearing a Texas Tech hoodie and I look at them and do the gun hand signal because wreck em amiright [sic]. tsa is now pulling me aside to talk to me,” she said in the post, which got over 3,700 retweets and 38,700 likes.
In the airport security line and I see someone wearing a Texas Tech hoodie and I look at them and do the gun hand signal because wreck em amiright
tsa is now pulling me aside to talk to me :((
— diana (@dianadurkin) January 6, 2018
Durkin says she recalls thinking the TSA believed her to be “a terrorist” and that she’d be “going to jail.”
“I’m just sitting there, almost in tears, like, ‘No, I’m just really dumb, I’m not a terrorist!'” she added. She said she was given a warning, and while her family sees the humor in the story, Durkin says she was “scared to death.”
A Student’s Thoughts
What the TSA does is important for the sake of individuals’ safety. I am not advocating for the TSA to be more relaxed when it comes to safety procedures, but the question here is, does this even qualify as a serious threat?
With that being said, I don’t believe this extreme of measures is necessary; most people can put two and two together when it comes to a teenage student at Texas Tech and the “guns up” gesture, especially after hearing the backstory, and seeing proof of student identification.
I would think differently if this were a case of real verbal threatening, or possession of truly dangerous items. However, this is a case that left a college student with good intentions “scared to death.”
Additionally, an undercover investigation in 2017 led the TSA to miss 80% of test weapons and bombs planted in bags across airports in the U.S,, Fox News reported. A similar investigation in 2015 led the TSA to miss 90% of test weapons. Notably, 7.8 billion dollars were spent on the TSA budget in 2017.
“At the end of the day, the government’s primary job is to protect its citizens,” Former CIA officer Mike Baker told Fox News regarding the investigations.
Baker is correct in his statement, but the question still remains: Were Durkin’s actions enough to be pressed with questions, or should the TSA stay focused on more serious issues, considering such a high percentage of harmful devices were missed?
What Is The Media Saying?
While Durkin’s story may seem ridiculous and out of the norm, she quickly realized that it wasn’t when individuals replied to her tweet with their own TSA stories.
“The TSA stopped me today because my @lushcosmetics products apparently registered as explosive materials by their machines,” one user said.
“Flying to Pensacola, FL out of Lubbock my wife’s carry on bag was subjected to extra scrutiny. She had a bag of Carmel
#M&Ms and we were told they looked like bomb parts. So the #M&Ms were pulled and run through the X-Ray machine. Only Carmel inside, no C4. #TSA strikes again,” another individual said.
Flying to Pensacola, FL out of Lubbock my wife’s carry on bag was subjected to extra scrutiny. She had a bag of Carmel #M&Ms and we were told they looked like bomb parts. So the #M&Ms were pulled and run through the X-Ray machine. Only Carmel inside, no C4. #TSA strikes again
— Curtis Fish (@FishPar4N2) January 12, 2018
Additionally, other users made the incident about cultures, looking for a reason to be offended. One individual said, “Now you know what other people of different cultures go through, as well as myself at the airport every single day especially in Texas.”
Now you know what other people of different cultures go through , as well as myself at the airport every single day especially in Texas
— Sven (@svencrowss) January 12, 2018
“You’re lucky for not being a minority male. TSA pulls a full cavity search a beat down and behind bars!” another user replied.
😂 you're lucky for not being a minority male.. TSA pulls a full cavity search a beat down and behind bars!𗁂
— Morpheus (@Maximus0072) January 8, 2018
Do you believe the student should have gotten into trouble with the TSA? What do you think about the TSA having a budget of 7.8 billion and missing 80% of test weapons and bombs? Let us know in the comments!