U.S. Park Police SWAT team officer Michael Fermaint patrolling Liberty Island
Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses - just tell them to leave their switchblades, their blackjacks and their brass knuckles at home.
The Statue of Liberty is attracting an assortment of well-armed tourists, with security officers seizing thousands of weapons from visitors headed into New York Harbor.
"You don't need a screwdriver to visit the Statue of Liberty," advises Sgt. Peter Culver, spokesman for the U.S. Park Police.
Tell that to the tourists.
The federal agency confiscated a wide-ranging array of weapons in the first nine months of 2011, a testament to its rigorous airport-style screening center in Battery Park City.
An inventory showed officers recovered 28 illegal weapons - everything from brass knuckles to collapsible batons to blackjacks.
They also seized nearly 5,300 knives; more than 5,000 other "miscellaneous weapons," including screwdrivers and other tools, and nearly 7,000 cans of pepper spray.
Last month alone, visitors surrendered seven dangerous weapons, 61 cans of pepper spray and Mace, and 588 knives - an average of about 20 blades a day, according to Park Police statistics.
Alison Johnson, visiting from Midland, Mich., went through screening without a hitch Thursday at Battery Park City. But upon arrival at Liberty Island, another visitor was nabbed with a Swiss Army knife in her bag. "They took a knife," said Johnson. "I was surprised she got through."
Ticket holders are screened at a checkpoint, manned by Park Police, before boarding a ferry for the short trip to Liberty and nearby Ellis Islands. The screening includes magnetometers and X-ray machines. A second check is conducted once visitors are on the islands.
Warning signs prohibiting the possession of any kind of weapon are posted at the site and announcements are made before visitors enter the screening area.
Last year, 3.8 million visitors from all over the world visited the landmarks. A majority of those guests passed through screening at Battery Park, officials said. Some were surprised when police pulled them aside.
"Sometimes they come from different states where these weapons would be legal, and because they are tourists, we understand that and we try to be very reasonable in enforcement," Sgt. Culver said.
Illegal weapons are confiscated. The Park Police give people the option of taking legal weapons back to their hotel rooms or someplace else, and then returning for the trip to Liberty Island.
"I have talked to people and I asked, 'Why do you have it?' and they say 'For my protection.' For the most part, they have no intention of using it to commit a crime. It is just something they have on them - they are used to carrying," Culver said.
Police also report a number of weapons-related arrests. Last year, Park Police made a half-dozen busts, including a pistol-packing South Carolina man in June and a gun-toting Alabama man in August. Both guns were reported stolen. Another man was arrested for carrying brass knuckles, a collapsible baton and some marijuana. There have been just four arrests this year, including a man caught with drugs and another busted for disorderly conduct.
Some Lady Liberty visitors were surprised by word of the masses of armed tourists.
"I have two fists - one of iron and one of steel. Who needs Mace?" said a man who identified himself only as Roger, of the Rocky Mountain region of western Canada. He was surprised by the rigorous screening, much like an airport, with screeners asking visitors to take off their belts and shoes.