Police arrested a woman from Iowa after Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers prevented her from carrying a loaded handgun onto her flight on Friday, February 11, at Newark Liberty International Airport.
TSA officials said the 9mm gun was loaded with five bullets, including one in the chamber.
It was spotted inside a pocket of the woman’s handbag when a TSA officer who was staffing the checkpoint X-ray monitor spotted the weapon.
TSA then alerted Port Authority Police, who confiscated the handgun and arrested the woman, a resident of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on weapons charges.
The woman told officials that she was running late for her flight and forgot that she had the loaded gun in her handbag.
“If you own a firearm, you need to know where it is at all times and take care to ensure it is not inside one of your carry-on items when you walk up to a TSA security checkpoint,” said Thomas Carter, TSA’s Federal Security Director for New Jersey.
“Guns and planes don’t mix. It’s important to remove firearms and ammunition from carry-on bags every time you fly.”
Passengers are permitted to travel with firearms only in checked baggage if they are properly packaged and declared at their airline ticket counter.
Firearms must be unloaded, packed in a hard-sided locked case, and packed separately from ammunition.
Then the locked case should be taken to the airline check-in counter to be declared. TSA has details on how to properly travel with a firearm posted on its website.
Bringing a gun to an airport checkpoint carries a federal civil penalty because TSA reserves the right to issue a civil penalty to travelers who have guns and gun parts with them at a checkpoint.
Civil penalties for bringing a handgun into a checkpoint can stretch into thousands of dollars, depending on mitigating circumstances.
This applies to travelers with or without concealed gun carry permits because even though an individual may have a concealed carry permit, it does not allow for a firearm to be carried onto an airplane.
The complete list of civil penalties is posted online.
Additionally, if a traveler with a gun is a member of TSA PreCheck®, that individual will lose their TSA PreCheck privileges.
Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality, and passengers should do their homework to make sure that they are not violating any local firearm laws.
Travelers should also contact their airline as they may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition.
Last year TSA officers detected 5,972 guns at security checkpoints nationwide, and 86 percent of them were loaded.