By KRISTIN TATE
As we reported several weeks ago, a Tennessee man built a firing gun from items he purchased at the airport — after going through security. Since his project received a huge variety of responses from our readers, I decided to reach out to him and find out more.
Evan Booth, a computer programmer from Greensboro, created the gun using items like a hairdryer, lithium batteries, and body spray. He calls his creation BLUNDERBUSiness.
Booth said he decided to embark on this project after the TSA introduced body scanners, which he believes violate travelers’ privacy.
He told me, “People who understand security understand that the current screening procedures exist primarily to put passengers at ease — ‘security theater,’ if you will. They also know that, given enough time, a persistent attacker will succeed to some degree.”
Booth was able to shoot pocket change out of his gun with enough power to blow a hole through Sheetrock.
Here is a video detailing the gun’s construction and functionality:
In addition to creating BLUNDERBUSiness, Booth made several other deadly weapons — also using common items purchased in airport stores.
He sent me some captioned photos of his creations. (My personal favorite is the “Adorable Blowgun.”)
Some have wearily hypothesized that Booth’s creations could only prompt the TSA to make airport security more strict. On my previous BLUNDERBUSiness article, one reader commented, “Pretty cool, but knowing the government they’ll now ban all of those items.”
But Booth claims his project should have the opposite effect. He said, “I hope it helps people understand that trying to ban everything is simply not going to keep people safe at the end of the day.”
“If we’re trying stop a terrorist threat at the airport, it’s already too late,” he said. “And if you’re going to go through all that trouble getting into the terminal, why is all this stuff available in the terminal? I think people have kind of been suspecting that the type of things I’ve built are possible. I just don’t think anyone’s ever taken the time to do it.”
To prevent himself from being investigated by the government, Booth alerted the TSA prior to beginning his project. He emailed the agency to alert them that he planned to make his creations public on his website, terminalcornucopia.
“…since this information falls under the realm of common sense, I will be speaking about it publicly. Maybe my expectations are too high, but I don’t think it should be that easy to build an explosive device out of items purchased in an airport. Travelers — as both consumers and taxpayers — deserve to know this information. If that’s a problem, please let me know immediately.
My ultimate goal as a researcher is to work with the TSA to improve our overall security posture. With that in mind, my plan is to launch this website tomorrow at 5pm (EST) unless I hear from someone between now and then. Here’s where to contact me: [redacted] or reply to this email.”
After over 10 hours with no response from a government agent, Booth decided to reach out to the TSA again, this time by phone.
He said, “I didn’t catch his name, but the person I spoke with in the TSA’s general contact center knew about the email as well as its contents — ‘Yeah… the web address with the password.’ When I asked for his thoughts on the content, he responded with ‘I don’t know. We can’t access the internet here.'”
The employee instructed Booth to forward his email to the TSA’s Strategic Communications and Public Affairs office. He never received a response.
“And that was it,” Booth said. ” I’ll leave it to you to decide whether or not these reports were being taken seriously.”
Perhaps Booth is right, and no amount of airport security will prevent bad people from doing bad things. After all, banning weapons doesn’t necessarily prevent bad people from getting ahold of them. We all know how well that logic works in “gun free zones.”