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TSA's gun policy: Confiscate it, Instagram it (cnn.com)
36 points by grizzy 727 days ago | 62 comments



I note that every single one of them caught by running your bag under the x-ray and/or a metal detector. The TSA provides no evidence that grabbing your nutsack or fondling your wife's breasts has found any weapon or threat that a simple bag x-ray and a walk through metal detector wouldn't find.

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The headline is a bit odd. The TSA blog gives clear and simple instructions on how to take your weapons onto a plane. (Not loaded, not in your hand luggage.)

Some people have said (on HN as well as other places) that the TSA have never stopped weapons getting on board a plane and if they had they would have heavily publicised it. In fact, they stop about 20 to 30 guns each week from getting on board a plane. Those guns and knives are posted to their blog.

Perhaps posting images on Instagram will let more people know that the TSA manage to stop some weapons (although I don't care about the guns they stop, I care about the gun they don't stop and which is then used to harm someone) and to help remind people to put guns into checked baggage instead?

(http://blog.tsa.gov/search/label/Week%20In%20Review)

Note that I'm not defending particularly defending TSA here.

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> Some people have said (on HN as well as other places) that the TSA have never stopped weapons getting on board a plane and if they had they would have heavily publicised it

I believe the standard claim is that they have never discovered and apprehended a terrorist, preventing an attack. Everybody knows they steal shit from people who, although perhaps stupid, are not terrorists.

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(https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3810785)

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Some people do, of course, believe that the TSA has literally never caught a weapon. Some people also believe that the TSA is secretly protecting us from the lizard-men from Mars. It is fairly easy (even here) to find someone on most any side of a debate who's arguing from deranged criteria.

We can argue about what qualifies as 'standard' - although I don't think any of us have access to much in the way of quantification regarding arguments for and against the TSA. Proof to the contrary would be a pleasant surprise.

I hope it suffices to say that most people who are concerned about the TSA are concerned about rates of detection and perceived effectiveness of techniques versus cost. Even if not everyone would be so wordy.

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Yes and?

Google search for "tsa never caught a terrorist":

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/explainer/20... (Slate pointing out that the TSA doesn't catch terrorists, making special note of the fact that they have not bragged about doing so.)

http://disinfo.com/2012/03/has-the-tsa-ever-foiled-a-terrori... (blogspam about an economist article written by Bruce Schneier about the TSA never catching terrorists. Bruce Schneier is likely the most prominent person that points out that the TSA never brags about bagging one. I would wager that he popularized the point.)

http://tsanewsblog.com/3160/news/tsa-executive-admits-not-a-... (TSA official asked directly if they have ever caught a terrorist.)

Google search for "tsa never found a gun":

(Fuck all.)

The popular question is "if the TSA has caught a terrorist, why haven't we heard".

"If the TSA has never found a gun, why haven't we heard?" is foolish and as far as I can tell almost never asked.

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> to help remind people to put guns into checked baggage instead

I have to wonder how many of the firearms they stop are just regular law-abiding concealed handgun license bearers who, in their rush to get to the airport, forgot that they keep a loaded firearm in their purse, briefcase, or backpack. Since the penalty is a $7,500 fine and not 20 years in jail, I have to presume this scenario is far more common "malicious guy planned to hijack plane."

This would be a very easy statistic to publish, too (only 10% of the people we stopped were even licensed to carry a handgun!), but since I haven't seen that statistic advertised, I would presume they find most of the stopped citizens to be guilty only of carelessness.

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I feel like I am the only person on this thread that thinks the scenario that someone just happened to "damn, went to the airport and forgot that I had a gun in my bag while going through airport security" is pretty far-fetched.

A pocketknife from a fishing trip? Understandable. Being forgetful about having a gun in your bag? While going through airport security to get on an airplane? Not so much.

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Ever shot a gun? Done so a lot? Licensed to carry concealed? Carry a lot?

I carry on my hip at between 4-5 o'clock, and it is not a small or light gun (4" aluminum frame M1911 + spare magazine on other side), so I don't exactly forget that I'm carrying it, but on the other hand the fact that I'm carrying doesn't register strongly---mostly, it's about keeping my pants on ^_^. I notice that the TSA's Instagram page shows small guns (smaller than mine) with one possible exception, and states all but the derringers were found in carry on bags.

Carrying is something you get accustomed to, and a lot of people get complacent. Massad Ayoob in his safety video talks about it becoming like "Fluffy", your pet dog or whatever.

With 43 states as of today (Illinois) having de jure or de facto shall issue regimes (plus much upstate New York, rural California and Massachusetts (!), and Rhode Island is confused), well more than 2/3rds of the population can legally carry concealed. As of last summer Clayton Cramer and the GAO independently estimated 7.5 and 8 million people have concealed carry licenses. That number is skyrocketing based on all reports, Vermont, Alaska, Arizona, Wyoming and as of this month Arkansas don't even require a license, and Illinois will be adding upwards of 10 million citizens eligible.

Yow, now 8 out of the top 10 states by population, all but California (1) and New York (3), all but 5 out of the top 20.

So, yeah, that many people, I can believe that much forgetfulness. Also, a lot of people forget spare magazines (with or without ammo), which are also in the same category.

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Literally millions of Americans carry guns legally as part of their everyday routine. It's not surprising that dozens of them a week forget that they have it on them when they go to the airport.

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Funny that they bring their toothbrush and remember that the white zone is for loading and unloading of passengers only, but they miss all the signs saying "Please don't bring a loaded gun through airport security".

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You really think less people forget their toothbrush?

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Yeah, that is funny. People are funny. This shouldn't be a news flash.

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Is your opinion then that 20-30 people a week intend on using a weapon on board a plane?

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I don't know what their point was, but mine would be this: those 20-30 people a week shouldn't be allowed to keep their guns. I support their right to ownership and carry, but they really should lose that right (or at least that firearm and a substantial sum of money) if they're so careless as to forget that they have a lethal device stuffed in a bag that they've just packed for a flight. That kind of stupidity and negligence gives careful gun owners a bad name.

Ownership of a firearm requires a certain level of responsibility. A concealed carry permit increases that quotient of responsibility substantially. In my mind, forgetting where you put your gun is basically inexcusable. There may well be the odd, vanishingly unlikely circumstance where one could plausibly excuse unintentionally carrying a firearm through airport security, but I can't think of it.

My bet is that most of these idiots knew they had their guns with them but thought they'd try it on anyway, reasoning that if they went home to drop it off, they'd miss their flight.

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I suppose that "far-fetched" isn't the right word to use, rather that it's absurd that that many people per week forget that they have a potentially loaded gun in their bag and are carrying it into a high-security area where they know they should specifically not have guns.

If we assume that those people don't have any malintent, then they're just careless. And if they are that careless, they should get their firearms confiscated from them and they should be fined.

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> I have to wonder how many of the firearms they stop are just regular law-abiding concealed handgun license bearers who, in their rush to get to the airport, forgot that they keep a loaded firearm in their purse, briefcase, or backpack.

I'm sure this accounts for the majority of weapon seizures, but this doesn't make them invalid. I would not be comfortable with improperly stored loaded weapons bouncing around an overhead storage bin.

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Well, you might not be comfortable, but you are safe. For all the usual reasons, including of course the plaintiff's bar, all handguns of modern design (and most not so modern) are safe when dropped loaded. It is a bit too easy to drop something you're holding in your hands onto a hard surface....

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We're not talking about a simple hard surface. We're talking about a handgun inside a bag filled with other miscellaneous items which is then jostled and pushed around.

You could argue the chance of an accidental discharge is low, but it's certainly meaningful enough to warrant caution. All the more so given the consequences of accidental discharge inside an airplane cabin.

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All standard carry models I'm familiar with either have a hard trigger pull, or have a manual safety. I'll grant you that someone carrying the latter had better have it in a holster or some arrangement where the safety can't get pushed off ... but then again, if this is how they normally carry, e.g. a normal purse, if they don't do that they're always in danger of a negligent discharge. And there are modified guns out there with unreasonably light trigger pulls, but the same considerations above for protecting a manual safety hold.

So I'd say "very low", while agreeing that it's not zero.

BTW, it's almost never an accidental discharge, almost always a negligent one, and in this hypothetical case most certainly so.

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> This would be a very easy statistic to publish, too (only 10% of the people we stopped were even licensed to carry a handgun!)

As I understand it TSA only do the finding of the guns and it's local law enforcement who does the rest. So TSA have no idea about who's allowed to carry the weapon or not.

I agree that these are just careless or forgetful people (or perhaps people making a point about their right to etc etc) and not terrorists.

> This would be a very easy statistic to publish, too (only 10% of the people we stopped were even licensed to carry a handgun!), but since I haven't seen that statistic advertised, I would presume they find most of the stopped citizens to be guilty only of carelessness.

I really hope that careless people are not being fined, or if they are it's only small. I also really hope that someone, somewhere, with a solid stats background, is collecting and studying the numbers and giving advice to law makers. Because spending all that time and money on something that's pointless would be very very frustrating. I want to know what the future-people will say about it. What will the 2063 tenth-graders write about it?

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> As I understand it TSA only do the finding of the guns and it's local law enforcement who does the rest. So TSA have no idea about who's allowed to carry the weapon or not.

I have no idea if this is true, but let's assume it is.

So what? How does that prevent TSA's Office of Public Relations from following up with law enforcement after the fact? Is there some law of which I'm unaware that prevents the TSA from asking the local PD for statistics about this sort of thing?

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Put like that there's nothing stopping them. But I was replying to a comment saying that it would be a very easy statistic to publish.

Co-ordinating with a variety of different law enforcement departments, in different states, with different laws, makes is a bit less easy.

> I have no idea if this is true, but let's assume it is.

It's something that TSA claim. I posted the URL and a quote earlier in the thread. Here it is again. (http://blog.tsa.gov/2013/07/tsa-week-in-review-30-firearms.h...)

> Just because we find a prohibited item on an individual does not mean they had bad intentions, that's for the law enforcement officer to decide. In many cases, people simply forgot they had these items.

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To be fair, they're not regular law-abiding citizens if they're bringing a loaded gun into an airport and attempting to get on a plane with it.

As much as I would love to see the TSA disappear tomorrow, some might argue that carelessness should be punished more often than it actually is...

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Sure, happy to be pedantic. I meant "regular, non-malicious, normally law-abiding citizens, obviously in violation of the law this time, but not intentionally, because they got stressed out trying to make their flight on time and overlooked a (admittedly very serious) item in their bag."

There are so many laws on the books these days I'm sure even my Grandma could be locked up for a couple decades.

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I actually wasn't trying to be overly pedantic. Bringing a loaded weapon into an airport, a school, a courthouse, etc is going above and beyond "whoops". I could overlook running through a four-way yield intersection. I could overlook tossing my lit cigarette out the window when I'm finished with it. I could overlook parking too close to a stop sign. 999,999 times out of a million, nothing will go wrong. But that one time it does go wrong, people die.

Yeah, there's a thousand laws on the books that everyone breaks and there's no real repercussions even in the worst case scenario. Bringing a loaded weapon into a weapon-free zone is not one of them. I say this as a holder of a concealed carry permit. You might as well be yelling "fire" in a theater if you drop your purse and that gun falls out.

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These people are not overlooked, they are fined up to several thousand dollars. Without mens rea or any realized harm (potential? sure, but no realized), that is plenty.

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If you forget you're carrying a loaded firearm you shouldn't be carrying one in the first place. Such responsibility should not be dealt with lightly, if you're not aware that you have it you are also not aware when you lose it.

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Is that a special case for firearms, or do you think the same of pocket knives?

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A pocket knife tends not to have the chance that it could plunge itself into someone's heart from a distance. Hurting someone with a knife is a pretty active offense, especially a pocket knife. Guns can and do go off without a human intentionally pulling the trigger.

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My point is that people accidentally forget to not bring / forget to bring things that are vitally important with no malicious intent.

I've forgotten to bring my wallet/keys with me when I leave my place, I've forgotten to wear my glasses before driving somewhere, I've forgotten to turn on my headlights while driving (in a well lit city, to my credit). People accidentally carry pocket knives through metal detectors.

None of these thing are something that happens to most people often, it could happen just once after years of correct routine. Theses absent-minded mishaps are just human nature. They are of course going to occasionally happen with guns too. I'm sure there are more than a few cops out there who accidentally walked through metal detectors while wearing their service pistol.

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I know what you were saying. I'm claiming that it's irrelevant. After enough driving on the highway, I can forget that the speed limit is 55mph and stop signs still exist. That doesn't mean that you can excuse me blowing through a four way stop at 70mph and hitting another car just because I didn't have malicious intent.

My point is, guns are a bit more dangerous than knives, and the responsibility of the holder should reflect that.

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Or forget them in the restroom, try e.g. this search https://www.google.com/search?q=cop+restroom+or+bathroom+lea..., it happens quite frequently.

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Sorry if you own a weapon it behooves you to know where it is at all times - people that dumb should have their license revoked.

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> (only 10% of the people we stopped were even licensed to carry a handgun!)

That would only be a meaningful statement in some states.

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If by "some", you mean "most", and if by "most", you mean "all but one."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concealed_carry_in_the_United_...

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From your link:

  Among U.S. states, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Vermont 
  and Wyoming allow residents to carry a concealed firearm 
  without a permit. These states also allow the open carry 
  of a handgun without a permit.
I count five.

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Ah—my misunderstanding/miscommunication. In Alaska, for example, it wouldn't be against the law to normally carry a firearm, and thus it would be entirely believable that someone left a firearm in their backpack. In California, it wouldn't be: if the guy doesn't have a concealed handgun license, he wasn't able to legally carry the gun outside of his house, much less into the airport. The "I got careless" argument makes way less sense.

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Several states have permissive open carry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:OpenCarryUnited_States.png

Even if they were concealed carrying it without a license, the statistic would be "10% of those caught not in Vermont did not have a license to carry the gun in the manner that they were carrying it".

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So are they inadvertently showing that they only need x-ray machines and metal detectors and don't have to feel us up anymore?

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This smells like a desperate attempt by the TSA to justify their own existence.

Note that none of these confiscated weapons by themselves necessarily constitute an intent to use them. Knives especially are commonly carried and can easily be forgotten about.

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> Note that none of these confiscated weapons by themselves necessarily constitute an intent to use them.

TSA themselves have been saying that, once a week, every week, for some time now.

(http://blog.tsa.gov/search/label/Week%20In%20Review)

> Unfortunately these sorts of occurrences are all too frequent which is why we talk about these finds. Sure, it’s great 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. Just because we find a prohibited item on an individual does not mean they had bad intentions, that's for the law enforcement officer to decide. In many cases, people simply forgot they had these items.

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> Note that none of these confiscated weapons by themselves necessarily constitute an intent to use them.

Exactly. If these were instances of the TSA actually protecting us then "passengers who try to go through security with a firearm usually get a citation and can face a fine" would not be the case.

Not unless our plan is fining and citing terrorists out of existence.

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Personally, I see this as an attempt to add humor and levity to a repeated and horrible violation of our rights and person.

"Hey, check out this gun! It has pink glitter! Aren't you glad we confiscated it!?"

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It's also in very bad taste. Even if things were being brought on purposefully... it just feels wrong to have authorities sort-of bragging about catching law violators.

It feels immature. Law enforcement is supposed to be serious. This kind of thing should only really be a number in a report, not a picture with a comment trying to be funny. It should be objective, neither heavy-handed or lackadaisical.

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Those sepia toned filters might actually make me rethink my opinion of the TSA. They should get plaid flannel uniforms and change their motto to "We were groping old ladies before it was cool"

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This feels kinda wrong, but I have to keep in mind that these people chose to give up these items.

From the TSA Blog (I cannot confirm if true)

When prohibited items come through the checkpoint, passengers are given options:

1) Take the item to the ticket counter and check it in your baggage or a box provided by the airport.

2) Many airports have a US Postal Service or other shipping services area where boxes, stamps and envelopes can be bought so you can ship your items home.

3) If there is somebody seeing you off, you can hand the prohibited item to them.

4) If your car is parked outside, you can take the item to your car.

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In many places, none of these suggestions would help someone who realizes he is carrying a handgun.

1) There are guidelines for how the firearm must be shipped; simply sliding it into your checked baggage will not work.

2) Handguns are generally prohibited from being mailed via the USPS.

3) The person seeing you off may not be properly licensed to transport the handgun.

4) Storing a valuable object in a vehicle which is in long-term parking sounds like a bad idea. Municipalities which have strict theft-reporting requirements do not have exceptions for "I was out of town and didn't know that my car had been burgled."

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1 & 2 are true for handguns (as checked luggage, they have to be in a hardsided locked case for example.)

but 3 & 4 I think would practically be the best route, despite some risks.

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Aren't you already inside the security checkpoint when the carry on is checked for? How can one leave items at the car by then?

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In every airport I've been through, passengers and carry on baggage are checked before the you get past the checkpoint. Yes, the screening areas are usually roped off, but that's it. It's not terribly difficult for a TSA agent to have you step out of line and then lift a rope to allow you to exit the screening area. Yes, having to go back out to one's car and then return to the end of the line sucks, but it's probably better than having your stuff confiscated or being carried away in handcuffs.

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I wonder how many TSA empoyees it takes to run an Instagram account.

All kidding aside, I wonder what mega IT company won the bid to run the Instagram account.

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It being run a program called "Optical Grating". Its a low cost alternative to "PRISM"

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Facebook. I heard they paid 1 billion USD for the privilege.

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While it is kind of a sad PR stunt from someone with a 14 year old hipster child at home, it is kind of cool if you look for the ways people try to smuggle goods and weapons onto flights.

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Except for all the horrible jpeg compression artifacts.

...or is that considered "art" lately?

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It is worth pointing out, a trick a number of photographer friends use when having to check their photo gear is to include a flare gun (or was it a starter pistol) in the case and note that there is a firearm. It increases the scrutiny and tracking of the bag.

Lifehacker had an article on it --

http://lifehacker.com/5448014/pack-a-gun-to-protect-valuable...

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So our tax dollars are not only paying the TSA's jack-booted thugs to harass us at the airport, but they're also paying for TSA dorks to sit around and post on Instagram? Jeeeeebusssssss....

And people wonder why I'm such a government-hating Libertarian. sigh

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One of the pictures has a clear visual date stamp with a "/90." Maybe this means nothing.

But I wonder if they are misleadingly posting these as if they were just discovered, rather than over what appears to be at least 23 years.

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Or you're reading it upside-down, making it "06/" which would mean it was taken in June (much less surprising since it is now early July).

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The image is also on this page but without the date stamp. (http://blog.tsa.gov/2013/06/tsa-week-in-review-tsa-week-in-r...)

Here's the URL. (http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-SysR15uPqBM/Uc4NPpBKBMI/AAAAAAAADH...)

Maybe they took it off for the blog post, or maybe Instagram put it on because 1990 is, uh, retro?

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> One of the pictures has a clear visual date stamp with a "/90."

It's part of the vintage look.

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