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Festival of Books: What you need to know about TSA airport security rules

Want to talk with the TSA about airport security? Join us at the L.A. Times Festival of Books on April 19.

Clearly some of you don't know what's allowed and what isn't at airport security checkpoints.

For those in need of a refresher course, Travel Editor Catharine Hamm and Transportation Security Administration spokesman Nico Melendez will be talking about all aspects of airport security April 19 at the Travel Smart Stage at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.

It's free to join the conversation; here's a Festival of Books schedule for "Why DO You Make Us Take Off Our Shoes -- and Other Things You Always Wanted to Ask the TSA" at 11:45 a.m. April 19 and other travel events scheduled during the two-day festival at USC.

Why the need to review the rules? Consider that last week 44 loaded firearms were found in carryon bags by the Transportation Security Administration, according to its blog.

What you might not know is seemingly harmless replicas are prohibited too. For example, the TSA confiscated two grenade-shaped bottles filled with cologne at airports in Denver (DEN) and Tampa, Fla. (TPA), and a hot sauce container that resembled a flash-bang grenade at San Francisco International Airport (SFO).

And real or not, finds like this slow down the security lines and can cause you grief when you really didn't intend any harm.

As for the loaded firearms and 18 stun guns that passengers intended to bring on board last week, you may as well wear an "arrest me right now" sign around your neck. The rules couldn't be clearer about prohibiting guns, ammunition, knives (and remember, replicas too), pepper spray, etc.

For those who wonder about how to safely transport firearms and ammunition, the TSA has clear rules to follow, starting with the fact that unloaded firearms must be in "a locked hard-sided container as checked baggage."

If you have more questions, join us at the Festival of Books on April 19.

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