From ‘Aussie woman found with live ammo at Changi airport’, 3 Jan 2012, article in sg.yahoo news.
An Australian woman was let off with a warning after she was found with two rounds of live ammunition at Changi Airport on 12 October last year. According to a Northern Territory News report, Jessica Powter, 34, had left the two 8cm-long bullets used to shoot buffalo in her camera bag after a one-off hunting trip three years ago.
“The bullets were rolling about in the car so I put them in my backpack and forgot about them,” she was quoted by the paper as saying. The camera bag had supposedly passed several airport checks previously, including two at Brisbane and one at Cairns.
Powter, who was returning to Darwin via Singapore from a holiday in Thailand, said that she had been detained for 23 hours and that she had her passport confiscated, was searched and interrogated, then handcuffed and escorted from the airport.
Aussie huntresses who gun down innocent animals aside, Filipinos have also been known to be detained for bringing in live or spent bullets, commonly used as ‘talismans and amulets’. In 2008, a Malaysian woman was caught for wearing a belt made of empty cartridges, the reason given by a ICA inspector was that these could be ‘filled with gunpowder and used to hurt someone’. It’s far easier to fill plastic bags with boiling water and drop them onto random passers-by from the top of a building, than find an underground local lab to synthesize gunpowder, then nick a police officer’s pistol to discharge your bullets. If I were to bring in a cannonball would I be detained as well, considering the nearest weapon that it can fit into, though unlikely to be shot from, is at Fort Siloso, Sentosa? According to the Arms and Explosives Act, a cannonball would possibly fall into the classification of a ‘projectile’ or ‘missile’, though it’s unlikely that customs officers would be able to distinguish this medieval ammo from a bowling ball.
2 years post 9/11, anything resembling phallic ammunition got customs officers fired up into a frenzy. In 2003, dummy missiles on a model aircraft were mistaken for live rounds, leading to a Briton being detained for 10 hours despite the filial intentions of buying the offending article as a gift from Vietnam for her father. Which means GI Joe toys or anything that so much as squirts shots of goo would come under scrutiny as well. Like Powter, a case of absent-mindedness was a convenient excuse for a Malaysian cop in 2002, when 1o bullets were found in his bag at Changi. In 2001 itself, a French soldier was caught by local customs for carrying a bullet as a souvenir in his WALLET. Incidentally, he also managed to whisk it past the Australian authorities at Sydney airport, which either suggest lax security Down under, or that buffalo-hunting equipment is as commonplace and acceptable as fishing lines and hooks. The contraband was confiscated and he was let off with a warning, though one wonders what if he had bought a boomerang instead.
Today, you’re not allowed to bring in lighters that even resemble bullets, in fear that terrorists or bank robbers in the guise of taking a smoke, would suddenly wave it around threateningly at people going ‘Don’t move! I’ve got a BULLET!’. ICA officers generally give the benefit of the doubt for people leaving ammunition in their luggage, though the shameful handcuffing and warning is a slap on the wrist for anyone trying their luck and succeeding in lying their way out of it. Powter had to ‘bite the bullet’ through detention as she was a special case; a buffalo hunter, meaning someone who’s not commissioned to use firearms to enforce the law or protect a country, but more likely to succeed at a distance killing shot than the average person. According to an Australian report she ‘felt like a criminal’. Tell that to an animal lover, or the woman detained for buying a harmless toy airplane for her father.