Don't be surprised if you're asked to whip out your cell phone and make a call next time you go through airport security. A mobile phone that masquerades as a gun may sound like a device concocted for 007, but it's the latest hidden weaponry to show up on the radar of law-enforcement folks.
Sources tell TIME that cell-phone guns, some of which have been seized in drug raids in the Netherlands, England and Germany, have been cited in several federal security alerts over the past year, the most recent just over a month ago. Though heavier than normal phones, the lethal ones look nearly identical. The hollowed-out devices, made in Croatia, are fired by punching buttons on the keypad and can shoot four .22-cal. bullets in rapid succession.
So far, no phony phones are known to have surfaced in the U.S. And aviation-security experts say screening equipment now in use can detect the cell guns and other "improvised explosive devices," such as fake calculators, cameras, laptops and PDAs. To speed your next security check, you may want to leave some of those gadgets behind, along with your tool kit. Says a senior U.S. law-enforcement official: "Even a screwdriver could conceal a shotgun shell in a hollowed-out handle."
--By Adam Zagorin