Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers caught a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, man with a .40 caliber handgun loaded with seven bullets in Terminal C at Newark Liberty International Airport on Saturday, October 17.
TSA officers caught the handgun as it entered the checkpoint X-ray machine inside of the man’s backpack.
It was the 11th gun caught at one of the airport checkpoints so far this year, tying the number caught during 2019 when passenger throughput was significantly greater.
“Passenger volume has been much lower this year as a result of the pandemic, and to tie the number of guns caught last year with two and one-half months remaining in this current calendar year is stunning,” Thomas Carter, TSA’s Federal Security Director for New Jersey, said. “Since the pandemic hit several months ago, the number of passengers flying out of Newark has ranged in the neighborhood of 70 to 85 percent fewer than last year. It is a sad statement about the number of people trying to bring their guns onto airplanes.”
When an individual shows up at a checkpoint with a firearm, the checkpoint lane comes to a standstill until the police resolve the incident. Guns at checkpoints can delay travelers from getting to their gates.
TSA reserves the right to issue a civil penalty to travelers who have guns with them at a checkpoint. A typical first offense for carrying a loaded handgun into a checkpoint is $4,100 and can go as high as $13,669 depending on any 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**](https://www.tsa.gov/travel/civil-enforcement). If a traveler with a gun is a member of TSA PreCheck™, that individual will lose their TSA PreCheck™ privileges.
Nationwide last year, 4,432 firearms were discovered in carry-on bags at checkpoints across the country, averaging about 12.1 firearms per day, approximately a 5% increase nationally in firearm discoveries from the total of 4,239 detected in 2018. Eighty-seven percent of firearms detected at checkpoints last year were loaded.
TSA has details on how to properly travel with a firearm posted on its [**website**](https://www.tsa.gov/travel/transporting-firearms-and-ammunition). Travelers should also contact their airline as they may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition.