A Delaware County, Pennsylvania, man was arrested by police after Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers caught him with a loaded gun at a security checkpoint in Terminal A at Newark Liberty International Airport on Wednesday, June 23.
Officials said a TSA officer stopped the Havertown, Pennsylvania, man with a 9mm gun loaded with seven bullets, including one in the chamber, inside his carry-on bag.
The man told officials that he forgot that he had his loaded gun with him.
A TSA officer spotted the handgun when the carry-on bag entered a checkpoint X-ray unit. Port Authority Police were alerted, confiscated the weapon and arrested the man on weapons charges.
“Claiming to forget that you have a loaded gun with you is inexcusable. This is an accident waiting to happen,” said Thomas Carter, TSA’s Federal Security Director for New Jersey.
“If you own a gun you need to know where it is at all times.”
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. If a traveler with a gun is a member of TSA PreCheck®, that individual will lose their TSA PreCheck privileges.
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.
Passengers are permitted to travel with firearms in checked baggage if they are properly packaged and declared at their airline ticket counter to be transported in the belly of the plane.
Guns are absolutely not permitted to be carried onto planes. Checked firearms must be unloaded, packed in a hard-sided case, locked, and packed separately from ammunition.
TSA has details on how to properly travel with a firearm posted on its website. Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality and travelers should check into firearm laws before they decide to travel with their guns.
Travelers should also contact their airline as they may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition.
Nationwide, TSA officers detected 3,257 firearms on passengers or their carry-on bags at checkpoints last year, although the total number of passengers screened at airport checkpoints across the country fell by 500 million compared to 2019 due to the pandemic.
The result was that twice as many firearms per million passengers screened were detected at checkpoints in 2020 compared to 2019. In 2020, TSA caught approximately 10 firearms per million passengers as compared to about five firearms per million passengers in 2019. Of the guns caught by TSA in 2020, about 83 percent were loaded.