Just the (Tactical) Tip: Get Through Screening

| August 8, 2017
Categories: Learnin'

Today’s article brought to you by JTF Awesome member SureFire (@surefire_llc) – and all the lumens.

JTT: Get Through Screening

Fifty Shades of FDE

We all go through some sort of screening process in our lives, some of us more than others. It sucks, but if you want to go places like the airport, theme parks, courthouses, concerts or a multitude of other places, it’s a choice of submitting to the get screen or not getting in. In most cases, you’ll have to go back to your vehicle and put away whatever’s prohibited. In other cases, you won’t get that chance and you may be fined, or worse, arrested.

One of the least desirable assignments in my line of work is Weapons Screening for the courthouses. It is, however, a very necessary layer of security. If I had a dime for every person who said, “Oh, just like the airport!”, I’d be filthy rich and they’d still be wrong. Although it’s a similar process, what the courthouse and the airport screen for and prohibit are in fact different.

My first piece of advice for anyone who anticipates being screened is to ask, “Do I really need this item for what I’m doing today (or on this trip)?”

If the answer is no, leave it at home or in your car.

Every venue has its own rules regarding what can come in or must stay out. It’s their house, so if you want in, you follow their rules; nobody cares if you dislike it, think it’s ridiculous or want to rant about how it infringes on your rights. Waxing bellicose or adversarial is not going to change anyone’s mind. Counter-intuitive though some might seem, there is a specific reason for every item prohibited. If you do some pre-planning by visiting the website of the place you’re going, you’ll have a better idea of what their expectations are. For instance, here’s the TSA’s website.

Grunts: bellicose.

Remember, every place is different. Just because you can have small scissors going through TSA doesn’t mean you’ll get through with them at a courthouses. However, since most screening processes have similarities, I’ll address each of the three common steps. You’d think these were all self-explanatory, but you’d be astonished and amazed to see what people do.

1. Empty out your pockets and place all of your loose items into the trays. Take off belts, watches and jewelry, and place everything into the X-Ray Machine. Do not put drinks in there! There is always get that one genius who puts a Venti Starbucks Latte into the X-Ray machine and then wonders why it spilled all over the place. More than one machine has actually gone down due to spilled drinks. Don’t be that guy. Ask the staff what they want you to do with your drink, or just guzzle it before you go through.

2. Walk through the metal detector or body scanner. Follow the directions of the staff member working that station. If they can’t figure out why you’re setting it off, they’ll either wand you or pat you down.

3. Retrieve your belongings (and make sure you grab everything). It’s a busy environment and somewhat distracting, making it very easy to forget your cell phone, belt or some other important item.

Now, here are some things that will help save you time and ass-pain.

1. Listen and pay attention to the staff working the screening point and follow their instructions. If there are signs, read them.

2. Weapons are the main prohibited items. So, pocket knives, OC, stun guns, etc. should be left elsewhere. This applies to CCW permit holders as well, and often to off-duty LEOs as well. Yes it sucks not having your carry gun with you, especially when the venue doesn’t have a good security or uniformed police officers patrolling. If you don’t like it, don’t go to those places.

3. Clothing and attire. The simpler your outfit, the easier it will be to get through the metal detector or body scanner. If you must have a belt, get one that has a plastic buckle. You may still have to take it off, but if that’s not a requirement you’ll be able to go through the metal detector without setting it off. The less jewelry you have the better. The more you have on, the more time it will take you to remove it and put it back on. You also run the risk of losing your valuables by simply forgetting to gather it all up on the other side of the X-Ray machine. Choose your shoes wisely. Make sure that they’re comfortable and easy to take off and put back on, just in case you’re told to remove them.

4. Electronics. If you have your laptop or tablet on you, make sure to remove it from the bag or pack and run each item separately through the X-Ray machine.

5. Use the trays provided for all of your loose items, especially your phone. If you don’t, it’ll be a shitshow on the other side and your phone’s screen might have new cracks.

6. Kids. If you’ve got them in a stroller, run all of their bags through the X-Ray machine. Expect to take them out of the stroller so that it can be searched.

Tip number one is probably the most important of them all: follow freaking instructions.

Screening is a part of the world we live in. Few of us like being unarmed anywhere, and it would be nice if all venues prohibiting weapons were to take full responsibility for your safety, but that’s not the reality. Venues that require you to be unarmed ought to have adequate security in place, hopefully with well-trained and -armed guards, but no one should count on it.

Personally, if I don’t feel safe, I’ll find something else to do rather than put myself or my family at risk. Sometimes you can’t help it; plan ahead, know what’s expected, and get it over and done with so you can get back to business as usual.

-Fifty Shades of FDE

This article made possible in part by B5 Systems (@b5systems), a member of JTF Awesome.

B5 Systems – Stock up, check your cheek weld!



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About the Author: Fifty Shades of FDE is a full-time LEO in California for a large agency with approximately 10 years experience on the job. He’s a husband, father, firearms enthusiast, and (like many of our Minions and Flunkies) training whore. He is a supporter of the Second Amendment and a proponent of law abiding citizens’ right to defend themselves with concealed carry permits, but no matter what anyone says he’s not actually Lee Byung-hun, nor has he ever been in a Kim Jee-woon movie. That’s not even the right country. A fully vetted member of the SOCAL Asian Mafia, the author runs a pretty badass Instagram account called @fiftyshadesofFDE, and writes his own gun/gear reviews on www.fiftyshadesoffde.com Contact him by e-mail if you’d like. No dick pics, please: [email protected]. Note: We’ve been trying to get 50SFDE to color his hair and start dressing like Vash the Stampede for over a year now, but so far no joy. If that changes we’ll advise most ricky-tick.


  1. Tennessee Budd

    My ex-father-in-law worked as a “Corrections Officer” most of his working life, retiring as a major. This may well only apply to older machines, but he could walk through a metal detector with his piece, a pocketknife, just about anything, & not set them off. He never would tell me how he did it.

    In my job, I have to occasionally go through screening at customers’ facilities, & I always set them off, due to all the steel holding my leg together. I carry a copy of one of my X-rays in my wallet, to show them what’s causing the alarm. They wand that area, the handheld goes nuts, & I go on my way. The personnel seem to appreciate it.

  2. strych9

    Courthouse screening doesn’t bother me. TSA does because, pardon my French, it’s fucking pointless.

    Some Jihadi with an S-vest fetish is eventually going to figure out that taking down a plane very likely won’t produce as many casualties as a properly detonated anti-personnel device, or devices, in the security line at a major airport.

  3. Frank Karl

    I see that TSA allows breast milk to be carried on board. Does it have to be in original containers?

    I visited NASA at the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral this spring. I don’t know why I was surprised to see metal detectors at the entrance, but I was. I normally turn around and head for the car to stack everything I’m carrying, but this time we didn’t.

    My wife went first carrying her favorite Benchmade Ascent which she placed in the tray. That set them off into a furry of head scratching and consultation. I had two of my favorite knives, plus camera, change, keys, belt etc. They eventually decided her knife was OK to launch and I just dropped my knives in a basket with camera, forgot about change in my pocket and then my belt buckle. If you ever seen a monkey romancing a football, that’s what this looked like. Still we got through with all our belongings. Their last words to my wife, in polite southern drawl was “That a pretty big knife for a woman…”

    But you are right, if you see a metal detector leave it in the car.


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